Monday, January 15, 2007

Chinese Animation

The 1970s

While the mainland animation suffered major setbacks, Hong Kong and Taiwan's animation industry started to boom. Famous Hong Kong comic and animation artists includes Ma Rong Cheng (馬榮誠). Taiwanese animator and artist Cai Zhi Zhong (蔡志忠) also started to gain fame.
Chinese Animation

The 1960s

During the 1960s, Chinese animation style culminated to the peak of its own styles, mixing with elements of traditional art characteristics. Where Is Mama , Buffalo Boy and the Flute, The Journey to the West have all won international fame. However, Chinese animation started its rapid decline due to Cultural Revolution and fell quickly behind its peer Japan.
The founding of ShangHai Arts and Film Production Company

After 1949, the founding of ShangHai Arts and Film Production Company (上海美術電影製片廠) sponsored by the central government helped China to enter its animation golden era during the '50s and '60s. In 1956 the company's first colored animation Why is the Crow Black-Coated (乌鸦为什么是黑的) won the first international award. Increasing Chinese style mixing with traditional Chinese opera schemes and figures helped the company to launch new animation films such as Magical Pen (神笔) and The Proud General (骄傲的将军). As a result, the animated movie Magical Pen won five series awards internationally for its unique style of representation.
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.