As I was watching the movie this evening, it striked me that the story content resonated with very rich astrological themes, especially theme of the outer planets, i.e. Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
It is about a British journalist George Hogg who narrowly escaped death during the Massacre of Nanjing and fled to a neighbouring village, Huang Shi, where, under the recommendation of a Communist Guerilla, Jack (Chow Yuen Fatt), managed to take shelter in an orphanage (Plutonian in theme). Each and every boy in Huang Shi was a survivor of the Japanese war and had their own nightmares through the loss of their family members. George befriended them, helped them to repair the orphanage and get them back onto a more healthy way of living. Ms. Lee a Red Cross volunteer was there to help and encourage him.
Soon the Nationalist officials eyed the orphanage and wanted to draft all the children into their army to fight the war. In the critical moment he decided to lead and bring all the children across the Silk Road, over the snowy mountains and across the Gopi Dessert to a place called San Dan where the children would be safe from both the Japanese and the Natonalists. Just as the group was about to leave, one of the orphans hanged himself (Uranus/Pluto in theme) and shocked George. Jack explained to George that their instruction to the group "Let us leave this place" had probably triggered and drawn out the boy's nightmare memories of how his parents perished when he last heard the same sentence spoken to him. Hence, in despair the boy took his own life.
The party left eventually and George was assisted by Lee and Jack. George noticed that Lee suffered from morphine withdrawal along the way. Jack explained that, unlike himself and George who both had noble ideals (Neptune/Jupiter in theme) to live on, Lee had none. So she has to share the pain of each and every orphan in the group and numb her own pain with morphine (Neptunian in theme).
Eventually they struggled and travelled more than 500 miles and reached their destination after 3 months. This feat was thereafter known to the local Chinese as the "Miniature Long March" (Saturn/Pluto in symbolism). Unfortunately on the way, the party encountered a twister in the desert and George suffered a subcutaneous injury. Shortly after he reached his destination, he developed tetanus from the wound and perished.
The orphans who survived the Miniature Long March and have grown up as adults all said George Hogg was the one who gave them the fighting spirit and glued them together on the journey (Saturnian in theme).