This film is narrated by a singer, YANG YI, a famous wandering folk singer in real life in China today. He once sat and sang at streets of Beijing all day long, and taken into custody by police several times. But after freedom, he sat there again. His songs mostly express the feelings of the have-nots, the helpless. He wrote and performed 4 folk songs and all melodies for this film, just with a guitar and a harmonica.
With unpretending narrative style and a 5-chapters structure: Laboring, Appearing, Xiao Qian, A Mei and Reoccurring, the film tells a story about an accidental rape affair:
Several years ago, Ma Xiaogang, an orphan in a town of West in China, raped a girl, A Mei, a teacher of an elementary school, at a great sunflowers field. He was put in jail. When he was free and came back to the town, he became a taciturn man. No one knew his secret. With help of a good old policeman, He ran a little shop at Shadow Mountain Street to make and sell roasted sunflower-seeds, willing to wash off the guilty by working hard. Sometime, when he was not busy, he dated with Zhang Xiaoqian, a naive girl who loved him: going to cinema, having a walk, sitting outside the door to listen the casual guitar of the wandering singer. Time went slowly and leisurely.
But every time when he passed by that field, the blooming sunflowers reminded him of the past, the days full of desire and love to that girl, A Mei. He began to imagine and imagine her life of today. Where she was? How was her life? With strong curiosity, he sent some letters to her old address, never expecting them can get to her.
One day, a strange woman called in on his shop. She was A Mei. So they met again. But how they get along with each other? In his eyes, she has changed a lot, not being a pure girl like before. Finally he decided to love her, with deep regrets. But she did not understand at all. It made him a little desperate, also let him blame himself much more.
One day, they came to the great sunflower field again. In sight of the setting sun, they burst to love and rushed into sunflowers…After that, they sat there for a long time, quietly and numbly. Finally, A Mei was gone, only with a brokenhearted word left: “the whole damn world has changed after all. ” Night was falling, and Ma Xiaogang was back home too, at loose ends.
He sat in his room all night. The next day and the next night, he was in the sunflower field again, with a sickle in the hand. He stood there so long and so long, suddenly, began to chop the sunflowers crazily……
Morning was coming at the Shadow Mountain Street, the naïve girl was coming too, but the poor boy was never been there again. In sight of all of the scenes, our lonely singer carried his guitar and pack, leaving this town forever.