A lit­er­ary trip back in time with Dis­ney

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

Com­pan­ion ran a full-page photo of Mickey Mouse read­ing the mag­a­zine.

Af­ter the first Dis­ney an­i­ma­tion film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pre­miered in the US in De­cem­ber 1937, the film hit Shanghai cin­e­mas six months later and be­came the most pop­u­lar movie that com­manded the high­est ticket price for that year.

In 1940, Dis­ney’s se­cond an­i­mated film The Ad­ven­tures of Pinoc­chio sim­i­larly be­came a box of­fice hit in Shanghai. One lo­cal mag­a­zine, ti­tled The Fam­ily, ded­i­cated 17 pages to the film, pro­vid­ing read­ers with de­tailed de­scrip­tions of the sto­ry­line. An­other mag­a­zine, The Hol­ly­wood, ran 10 ex­clu­sive be­hind-the-scenes pictures in a bid to at­tract peo­ple to watch the film.

In ad­di­tion, a Chi­nese film pro­ducer had in 1940 cre­ated a live ac­tion, Chi­nese ver­sion of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to tap into the pop­u­lar­ity of the movie.

This spin-off soon sparked a craze in Shanghai and many peo­ple would rush to buy mer­chan­dise from the show as well as hot stamped images of char­ac­ters like Mickey Mouse and Don­ald Duck. Char­ac­ters from Walt Dis­ney an­i­ma­tions also started ap­pear­ing in nu­mer­ous ad­ver­tise­ments, comic books and de­riv­a­tives.

The suc­cess of Dis­ney films had also boosted the devel­op­ment of China’s car­toon in­dus­try. In­spired by the pop­u­lar Walt Dis­ney movies, a Shanghai film stu­dio pro­duced Princess Iron Fan — China’s first car­toon film and the world's fourth — in 1941.

“It was the first time that a Chi­nese film was men­tioned to­gether with an Amer­i­can film. The pro­ducer of the film also cre­ated the first Chi­nese color car­toon ti­tled The Mon­key King, which was the first of its kind,” said Chen Zhe, the deputy di­rec­tor of the doc­u­ment ser­vice cen­ter at Shanghai Library.

Dis­ney com­men­tary ar­ti­cles by fa­mous writ­ers such as Eileen Chang and Lin Yu­tang, as well as a se­ries of lo­cal­ized Dis­ney char­ac­ters such as a qi­pao- clad Min­nie Mouse and Mickey Mouse sit­ting on a rick­shaw, are also on dis­play at the ex­hi­bi­tion, which runs till July 11.


Shanghai Dis­ney­land may be the lat­est craze right now, but com­pe­ti­tion will soon heat up when 60 more theme parks open their doors in China by 2020.


Il­lus­tra­tions such as this can be seen at the Dis­ney ex­hi­bi­tion cur­rently on at Shanghai Library.

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