In the spring of 1939, an idealistic communist soldier (Wang Xueqi) takes to the Chinese countryside on a mission to collect spirited folk songs from the people. However, he soon discovers that these peasants don't sing songs of joy but ballads that tell of their hardscrabble existence. Though he returns to the army, his speech on freedom makes a powerful impact on Cuiqiao (Xue Bai), a young girl who dreams of crafting a new future by following his example and enlisting in the communist army.
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