Two brothers, Yuan Shuqin and Yuan Renshu, have lived an isolated and primitive life on Taihang Mountain in Hebei province for the past 60 years. They eat grain and vegetables that they themselves grow, drink spring water and live in a stone cottage built by their ancestors.
Many years ago, the brothers’ great-grandfather came to Taihang to build houses and cultivate the wasteland, fleeing from famine. Yuan Shuqin and Yuan Renshu are the fourth generation of their family to live on the mountain, and they will likely be the last. Waking before sunrise to begin their work and finishing each day at sunset, they live together and depend on each other for survival.
Neither brother has married due to their shared poverty. Renshu, the younger brother, once considered getting married, but he soon realized that his humpbacked brother could not survive without the able-bodied Renshu to labor beside him. Renshu tried to convince his brother to venture into the outside world to earn a living, but his elder brother rejected the plan. Now, the brothers barely even speak because of Shuqin’s deterioriating language ability.