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
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
Top: people talking about it. by Zhang Liyan.