The Bird People in China

Watch The Bird People in China

"The children of the sky."
  • TV-PG
  • 1998
  • 1 hr 58 min
  • 7.4  (4,908)

In the movie The Bird People in China, two Japanese business executives, Ujiie and Wada, are sent by their boss to a remote village in China to investigate the potential of jade mines that were recently discovered. They are to be accompanied by a guide, Shen, who is a young Chinese woman, and a translator, Rie, who had grown up in Japan.

The journey to the village is arduous, as they have to navigate treacherous terrain and cross rivers on foot. Along the way, they encounter a group of men who are transporting birds in large cages. Ujiie is fascinated by the birds and strikes up a conversation with the men. He learns that the birds are prized for their singing and that there is a market for them in Japan.

Upon reaching the village, the group meets the chief, a wise old man named Duan. He informs them that the jade mines are not accessible by road and can only be reached by foot. He also tells them about a legendary tribe of Bird People who live in the mountains and who are said to have the ability to communicate with birds. Ujiie is skeptical and dismisses the idea as superstition, but Wada sees the potential for profit and urges Ujiie to investigate further.

The group sets out on the arduous trek to the mountains, where they encounter the Bird People. At first, they are met with suspicion and hostility, but they eventually gain their trust by sharing their food and showing them how to use a flashlight. They learn that the Bird People are a peaceful community who live off the land and worship the birds as sacred creatures.

Ujiie becomes enchanted by the simplicity and purity of the Bird People's way of life and begins to question his own values and priorities. He also develops a bond with a young girl named Shen Fu, who is fascinated by his wristwatch and teaches her how to tell time. Meanwhile, Wada becomes increasingly obsessed with finding jade and convinces Shen to lead him to the mines against Duan's wishes.

As the group descends into the mines, they discover that they are dry and devoid of any jade. Wada becomes enraged and attacks Shen, but Ujiie intervenes and they flee back to the village. They are pursued by Wada and his men, but the Bird People come to their aid and help them to escape.

In the end, Ujiie and Rie return to Japan, but Ujiie is forever changed by his experience in China. He decides to quit his job and start a new life, one that is more attuned to the simple pleasures of life. The film ends with him looking up at the sky, listening to the birds sing, and reflecting on his journey.

The Bird People in China is a beautifully shot film that explores themes of culture clash, spiritual awakening, and the search for meaning. The performances by Masahiro Motoki, Renji Ishibashi, and Mako are excellent, and the cinematography by Hideo Yamamoto captures the natural beauty of the Chinese countryside. The film is a poignant reminder that there is more to life than material wealth and that true happiness can be found in the most unexpected places.

The Bird People in China
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 58 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (4,908)