Journey to the East: The (re)Make of Chinese Animation

Little Soldier Zhang Ga

Little Soldier Zhang Ga

This thesis attempts to look at how Chinese animation cinema has evolved over the years and how the Chinese nation is being constructed and contested through animation filmic texts and animation filmmaking practices as sites where national and transnational cultural and economic flows converge and contend. The unraveling of the intricate relations between animation cinema and nation is intended to shed light on the understanding of contemporary cultural, social and media scapes in China. The Introduction addresses motivations and goals, critical questions, and over-riding theoretical framework and methodology. Chapter One explores the origin of the pursuit of a national animation style by investigating early Chinese animation cinema of the pre-reform period. It also serves as a backdrop against which the present discourse of revitalizing national animation cinema is being articulated. Chapter Two closely examines a commercial 3D feature-length animation production – Thru the Moebius Strip, as a case of “homemade” in the era of global capitalism, to look into modern nation-building both at the industry level and the filmic text level. Chapter Three closely examines another recent feature production, Little Soldier Zhang Ga, which can be read as a new type of “national” film that inherited the heritages of the socialist cinema, but aims at revolutionizing the animation cinema. The Conclusion comes back to the core question of the national and the creative, which contemporary animation cinema centers on. I try to disentangle the relations between Chinese animation filmmaking and the state discourse of national, taking into account the broader political, institutional, economic and cultural situations.

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