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Little Toys (Chinese: 小玩意; pinyin: Xiáo wǎnyì) is a 1933 silent film directed by filmmaker Sun Yu. It is one of two films Sun Yu directed in 1933 (the other being Daybreak). The film stars popular Chinese actress Ruan Lingyu and was produced by the leftist film production company Lianhua Film Company.

Little Toys
Directed bySun Yu
Written bySun Yu
StarringRuan Lingyu
Li Lili
CinematographyZhou Ke
Release date
Running time
114 min.
LanguageSilent film
with Chinese intertitles

Today the film enjoys a positive reputation and was named one of the hundred best Chinese films by the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2005.




Sister Ye lives in a rural village, where everyone makes traditional toys. She is considered the creative mind behind inventing new toys, and all the villagers look up to her. Tragedy strikes, however, when Sister Ye's husband dies of an unknown illness, and while Ye is attending to him, her son is kidnapped and sold to a wealthy lady in the city of Shanghai. Shortly after, the village is destroyed during an attack between rival warlords, forcing the villagers move to the city, where they continue to make toys.

Ten years pass, and Ye's daughter Zhu'er is now 17. She has become a toy designer like her mother. War has befallen the nation, and the villagers' attempts at patriotism bring them to early deaths. While helping the Nationalist army at the rear, Zhu'er is killed in an attack by the Japanese.

On Chinese New Year's Eve, Sister Ye is dressed in rags, sitting on the curb, selling toys. A young boy buys toys from her, and he is none other than her son, whom she does not recognize. Ye then goes into a rambling rant, scaring the people around her, causing them to disregard this crazy woman. She begs the citizens on Nanjing Road to fight against the Japanese. Slowly, they begin to listen to her and realize she is right.


In 2003, Singaporean composer Mark Chan, in a co-commissioned project by the Hong Kong Arts Festival and Singapore Arts Festival, did the score for the silent film and productions were staged in each country, featuring live music accompanying the screening of Little Toys. The production was again restaged in Copenhagen in 2005 and in the Shanghai International Arts Festival in 2007.[1] The score by Chan combines both Western instruments, like the piano or cello, and traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu and the gaohu.[1] The production in 2007 was staged in the Shanghai Concert Hall on November 2, 2007.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Zhang, Michelle (2007-10-31). "Great Silent Movie Finally Gets a Score". Retrieved 2008-01-11.

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