Monday, January 15, 2007

Chinese Animation

Early history

In around 180 C.E., an unknown Chinese inventor created an early animation device that later became known as the zoetrope.

The animated cartoon industry began in France in 1888, invented by Emile Reynaud. Chinese animation started in the 1920s. Inspired by French, German, American (particularly Disney) and Russian productions, WanSi Brothers (万氏兄弟) produced the first Chinese silent animation Choas in the Studio (大闹画室) in 1926. WanSi Brothers highly acclaimed the animation development in Russia, United States, and Germany. He believed that Chinese animation should be instructive, logical and thought-provoking besides being entertaining to its audience. As a result, Chinese animation emerged as the only dominant animation style in the Far East throughout the 1930's and 1940's. At the same time, comic development also gained momentum. The most famous work of the period is Zhang Le Ping's (張樂平) San Mao's Travel Diary (三毛流浪記). The story depicted an orphan boy named Sam Mao who drifts from place to place and suffers various hardships. Being always optimistic in the face of hardships, he eventually got his fortunes and blessings. The main character had been compared frequently with AQ (阿Q), the fictional character from Lu Xun (魯迅), one of the greatest literary figure in the 1930s. Eventually, San Mao have been put into animation at much later time. In Hong Kong, the story of Lao Fu Zi (老夫子), a comical character bear some similarity with old Confucian scholar who could not fit the modern life, has become popular and has been animated in Hong Kong in the '80s.

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