On the horse of high ex­pec­ta­tions

An in­dus­try whose foun­da­tions were laid in the shad­ows of Dis­ney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs looks for a re­turn of the good old days

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WEEKEND LIFE - By XING YI xingyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Once upon a time, at the end of the best fairy tales, they all lived hap­pily ever af­ter. And then along came the an­i­ma­tion film fran­chise, in which case if you wanted to know what hap­pened in the end you would just have to wait for the se­quel.

So will the Chi­nese an­i­ma­tion film in­dus­try, like many of the he­roes and hero­ines it has pro­duced over the years, at times stand­ing tall, at times brought low, cham­pi­oning good and en­dur­ing the bad, stand tall once again?

The lat­est warrior rid­ing the horse of high ex­pec­ta­tions for a re­turn to the hal­cyon days for the in­dus­try is Da Hufa (Grand Sen­tinel), re­leased in China on July 13.

The film’s box of­fice tak­ings have been unim­pres­sive, less than 90 mil­lion yuan A Fish­boy’s Story: Tor­toise from the Sea Da Hufa ($13.5 mil­lion) in a month, whereas in the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year the Chi­nese an­i­ma­tion Big Fish & Begonia took 560 mil­lion yuan, and a year ear­lier the an­i­ma­tion Mon­key King: Hero is Back took 950 mil­lion yuan.

How­ever, there is a con­sen­sus among crit­ics that Da Hufa’s plot is stronger and much more re­flec­tive than those of the ear­lier two films. On the Chi­nese rating and re­view web­site Douban, Da Hufa has an over­all rating of 8 out of 10, more than 90,000 re­view­ers rating it above 8. Kungfu Panda 3, which came out last year, has a rating of 7.7.

The Chi­nese-style draw­ing in Da Hufa and the vi­o­lence through­out the film also got peo­ple talk­ing about it.

Which brings us back to talk of the good old days.

“The stan­dard of Chi­nese an­i­ma­tion has cer­tainly de­clined com­pared with where it stood be­tween the 1940s and 1960s,” says Lu Shengzhang, 71, for­mer dean of the school of an­i­ma­tion at the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Univer­sity of China in Bei­jing.

“In those days an­i­ma­tions made by Shang­hai An­i­ma­tion Film Stu­dio were ac­claimed through­out the world.

The first Chi­nese fea­ture an­i­ma­tion, Princess Iron Fan, was pro­duced in 1941, four years af­ter Dis­ney’s ground-breaking

Above: (Grand Sen­tinel). Its Chi­nese-style draw­ing got

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Top: peo­ple talk­ing about it. by Zhang Liyan.

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