The following titles are some of the most famous masterpieces that represent the highest level of Chinese animation in technique innovation and aesthetic expression. They are also typical representatives of Chinese culture and art.
Little Tadpoles Look for Their Mummy (1960)
The story is about a cloud of newly born tadpoles seeking their missing mother through an oddly predator-free world. They mistake a succession of animals – “uncle shrimp”, goldfish, crab and turtle, garnering a new clue about their mother’s appearance from each misunderstanding. Finally, they find a frog – their beloved mother.
This only-14-minute-long animated film was the first water-and-ink animation, guided by the Chinese ink painting of artist Qi Baishi in style. Nearly every scene is like a beautiful museum ink painting coming to life.
Indeed, the visual novelty and the incredible artistry of this film are nothing short of stunning. It is challenging enough to paint a translucent shrimp using Chinese ink painting techniques. Animating two of them smoothly at 24 frames a second without varying the weight of the inks requires an astonishing level of technical virtuosity. The surface simplicity of the film masks a deceptive complexity.
Little Tadpoles Look for Their Mummy, directed by Tang Cheng and Te Wei, won the Best Animation Movie prize in the first Chinese Hundred Flowers Awards. Established in 1962 by the Popular Movies magazine, the annual awards are decided by the number of votes submitted by the general public.
Monkey King Wreaks Havoc in Heaven (1961, 1964)
Monkey King, also known as Sun Wukong, is a main character in the classical Chinese epic novel Journey to the West. As the real hero of this novel, this resourceful, brave and humorous Monkey King has been loved for four hundred years by Chinese children and adults alike.
In Monkey King Wreaks Havoc in Heaven, our show-off hero is determined to prove to the Emperor of Heaven that he is more than a Protector of the Horses to watch over the stables, which was the lowest job in heaven.
The Heavens’ initial attempt at subduing the Monkey King was unsuccessful, so they were forced to recognize him as the “Great Sage, Equal of Heaven”; however, they tried again to put him off as the guardian of Heavenly Garden.
When he found that he was excluded from a royal banquet that included every other important god and goddess, Sun Wukong’s indignation again turned to open defiance.
Epic battles are fought, and eventually all the lords and ladies of Heaven must run for cover as Monkey King runs amok. With all of their options exhausted, the Emperor of Heaven and the authorities of Heaven appealed to the supreme Buddha, who is the only one capable of reigning in the rampaging simian.
Monkey King Wreaks Havoc in Heaven won the best animation film in the second Hundred Flower Awards and is regarded as one of the most successful animations for it creates a cartoon hero Sun Wukong, who has become a household name in China. Even today, it is still the pride for all the Chinese people who make and love animated films.
Chinese animation – masterpiece of Chinese culture and art, part 1
Chinese animation – masterpiece of Chinese culture and art, part 2
Chinese animation – masterpiece of Chinese culture and art, part 3
Chinese animation – masterpiece of Chinese culture and art, part 4
Chinese animation – masterpiece of Chinese culture and art, part 5
Chinese animation – masterpiece of Chinese culture and art, part 6