This film is part of Free

Scenes of Northern China

Remarkable footage of a busy township market in a remote and impoverished area of north China seemingly untouched by the modern world.

Amateur film 1940 4 mins Silent


This remarkable film shows a remote north China township seemingly untouched by modernity. An elaborate memorial arch leads to the main thoroughfare and a busy market with all manner of stalls and small traders. Life here is simple but still eventful, and entertainment is provided by a storyteller and an erhu (Chinese violin) player. People can barely afford to buy, but they can still browse!

China was by now a republic, but many areas to the far north and west remained poor and isolated. Winter has clearly set in, as can be seen from the padded clothing of these rural people, but it doesn't prevent them from visiting the market, probably the main centre of activity in the area. It was precisely poor and remote areas such as these that were targeted by missionaries; near the end of the film, we see a man handing out booklets, which may contain religious material, possibly provided by the Western gentleman standing at his side.