• May 29, 2024

The Book of Heavenly Tales

When the 100-minute “Heavenly Book and Wonderful Tan” ended, my 5-year-old son stretched and said with satisfaction, “It looks good, the clothes and the people look good, the egg-sheng is very cute, and the Lord Prefect looks like Dong Zhou.”

At this moment the screen is showing a short documentary, and one of the directors of “Taint Qi tan”, Qi a Yandi, an old man, said, “Cartoons are to be strange, interesting and beautiful.”

When I saw him say this, my nose was sore, and I felt a heartfelt gratitude to the old man, and to all the staff of “Taint Qi tan”. This “thank you” is also for me as a child.

Since my son can understand cartoons, I have been waiting for an animated movie that I think is suitable to take him to see together. The experience of going to the cinema for the first time is important, and I didn’t want to spoil the ritual.

When “Nazca the Magician” was in theaters, I lamented that the requirement of “suitable for children” seemed difficult to achieve in today’s animated movie environment.

The re-release of “The Book of Heaven” is a good example of what is meant by “an animated movie suitable for children”.

When the film ended, he was still reluctant to leave

I know what children are curious about, I know what the beauty that makes children happy is, and I know where the brain power of children to understand “good and evil” is probably. What’s more, it is rich in a kind of stretching imagination, an imagination that is particularly temperamental and temperamental, where the sky is free and does not fly into nothingness, and where laughter and anger are not cynical.

The “Heavenly Book and Wonderful Tan” was originally planned as a co-production with the BBC for an animated film, and director Qi a Yandi recalled the past when he said, “The script that they worked with, Pan GU Kai Tina and everything, was a mess …… not really showing the Chinese stuff.”

The “Chinese thing” is what I feel is the “sprawling imagination”.

Every character in “The Book of Heaven” is in the same vein as the opera characters. However, in the context of animation, they are minus the overly programmed speech and mannerisms of the opera characters. The immortal Yuan Gong, the naive Egg Sheng, the three fox demons, the county magistrate, the magistrate, the emperor, and so on, all have the flavor of opera, but are particularly vivid and lively. My son, who has no experience in traditional opera viewing, was fascinated by these characters.

After thousands of years of refining opera, its aesthetic habits have penetrated into the genes of Chinese people. Once the flavor of opera comes out, the country is particularly energetic, because we know that this is to “play” a certain history, a mythological story.

In the old, repressed society, “drama” had some privileges. The “Book of Heaven” is a satire of absolute imperial power, bureaucracy, human faces, deep lust, and other phenomena that not only adults but also children can understand most of.

My son couldn’t understand my son’s obsession with the female vixen. But the county magistrate, the old lady want more money, food and housing, to occupy the pot of treasures finally turned out a lot of dad stuffed cannot go back, my son laughed out of the “goose” sound. He certainly knows that a father is enough, and then he also understood that money and houses, as long as they belong to their own is enough.

The role of the young emperor is set, but also stunning. If it is a teenager, young, middle-aged, old emperor, it cannot let the child understand “the emperor greed” will bring what evil consequences. The young emperor in the film wants more birds, then more fireworks, more tigers to eat people, and he wants “more fun”.

Children are most likely to be engaged in seeing and thinking about what uncontrolled fun will bring. Usually we say to our son “play in moderation”, but not as convincing as the end of the little emperor on the screen.

The right sense of fright is also a plus for the characterization of “The Book of Heaven”. In particular, the film is arguably the ugliest image of the Jade Emperor on the Chinese screen, as well as the monk master and disciple, the three foxes. The dignity of these people, I remember I was scared to see as a child. So in their appearance, I stole a few glances at my son, if he was afraid, I covered his eyes.

I didn’t expect him to just shrink back, his eyes still straight.

I think, let the child afraid, is also a function of cartoons, fear brings a warning. With the impression of fear, it will make him remember something forever. But “moderate fright” is a superfluous consideration in many animated works. That’s why “Nazca’s Demon Child Comes to Life” is particularly unsuitable for children; the violence and horror in it are elements offered to adults. It is only adults who are willing to project their repressed selves into the body of the black-eyed, hostile Nazca; the Nazca of a child’s mind will always be the heroic Nazca of the Shanghai Fine Arts Film Studio.

I was particularly moved by re-watching “The Book of Heaven”. As a child, I never understood why Yuan Gong deserved to die for passing the Book of Heaven to earth.

In addition to understanding the greatness of Yuan Gong, but also have new feelings. The omnipotence of the Book of Heaven to earth is a feat, but Yuan Gong after years of practice and reflection, the initial enthusiasm must also return to calm. The use of the spells recorded in the book of heaven for the scourge of the earth, although the fox spirit, corrupt officials, the people seem to be willing to take back their own material wealth, not greed and robbery.

But, good and evil is so evenly distributed?

My life experience tells me that any “technology” that can quickly satisfy desires and multiply gains will not have any different results depending on the group using the technology. The result is disorder, moral decay, and the bursting of bubbles.

That’s why Yuan Gong, so many years ago, said the last words in a serious voice to Egg Sang and the children watching the animation: “Egg Sang, be good to you in the future.”

I think, this sentence my son certainly do not understand now, when he can understand, I will definitely accompany him to watch the “Heavenly Book of Wonderful Tan” again.

 

 

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