Towarzysz Te Wei
Comrade Te Wei
Languages of publication
The article discusses a subject that has not been examined in Polish Film Studies yet, namely the specifics of the classic animated film from the People’s Republic of China (1957–1989) through the prism of the life and work of Te Wei, a doyen of Chinese animation. The author aims to define a category of the “Shanghai School of Animation” and to coin the term “minzu style” which refers both to aesthetics and the ideological assumptions of Chinese animation art. As early as in the 1930s Te Wei was engaged in propaganda activities on behalf of the Communist Party of China realizing patriotic manhua. In 1949, he led the animation department at Changchun Film Studio and from 1957 he was the head of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio (SAFS). In 1957, Te Wei called animators to undertake the challenge of constructing a specifically Chinese style of animation and to use Western medium (cinematograph) in order to transmit Chinese “essence” through new techniques (e.g. ink-wash animation) and references to traditional symbolics (among others, Peking Opera). In this way, animated film production was adapted to the paradigm of Maoist propaganda that glorified Chinese cultural supremacy. For Chinese authors, veiled philosophical reflection of the relations between man and nature became the only available way of smuggling “artistic contraband” under totalitarian censorship, the possibility of expression that was fully exploited in the last film of the Chinese master (Feelings from Mountains and Water, 1988), completed in a period of modernization.
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