The Rebel of the Chinese School: Modernist Expression in A Da's Late Animations

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Abstract

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the Chinese School of animation was renowned both at home and abroad, especially on account of its emphasis on national character, aesthetics and philosophy. A second-generation animator in the School, A Da’s (1934-1987) early works display all of the School’s conventional, classic features, but a significant transformation can be observed in his later animations, which were visibly affected by western modernist art and thought. The extent and import of these innovations, which has yet to be fully acknowledged and assessed, will be clarified via a comparative analysis of Three Monks (1980), the most representative of A Da’s earlier works, winner of a Silver Bear for Short Film at the 32nd Berlin Film Festival, and his last two animations, Super Soap (1986) and The New Doorbell (1986). Aspects of modernist expression will be explored in these works—from their modern subjects and narrative structure, to various techniques borrowed and adapted from modernist painting, to their use of irrationalism and the carnival. This essay aims at calling attention to and elucidating the revolutionary approach A Da crafted at the end of his career, in the context of the history and style of the Chinese School of animation on the one hand and, on the other hand, of the appearance of modernism in China in the 1980s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-104
Number of pages24
JournalModernism/Modernity
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • Chinese animation
  • Modernism
  • A Da

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