Chang an

Recently, the traditional Chinese-style animated film “Chang An” has become popular among the young audience, and its box office has surpassed RMB 800 million within 12 days of release. The film strings together the memories of poets Gao Shi, Li Bai, Du Fu, and Wang Wei in the Tang Dynasty, taking the audience through the vast deserts and borders, wandering through the misty and rainy Jiangnan province. Combining both of inked-art and the latest LED technology, the audience can now experience the magnificent Chinese poetry/ art on another level.

The appearance of “Chang An” is thought-provoking, now that domestic animated films have finally turned their attention to the rich history of various folklore and mythological universes. The specific theme of the film covers the heyday of the Tang Dynasty up to the An Lushan Rebellion, revealing the life ups and downs of the poets; these tales are passed down from generations and widely known throughout the Chinese speaking community.

The film uses a total of 48 Tang poems, highlighting the significance of poetry used. It not only depicts the panoramic view and picturesque mountains and rivers of the Tang Dynasty from an aesthetic perspective but also paints the picture of the poets’ pursuit of life’s journey. Moreover, it captures the essence of the Tang poems and portrays them in a visually appealing way.

The creative team initially thought of making Li Bai the main character, but they eventually chose Gao Shi instead. While Gao Shi may not be the obvois choice, however it is clever. Gao Shi held important positions as a military commander and personally experienced crucial historical turning points. His close relationship with Li Bai leads to memories of Li Bai during his later years, making it effortless to depict this long period of history. Additionally, in animation, it is more challenging to create scenes of literary discussions compared to martial arts scenes. Scenes of Gao Shi strategizing on the battlefieldwith of thousands of soldiers and horses are more impressive than scanes of power struggle within the palace walls.

Gao Shi and Li Bai have contrasting temperaments, one introverted and the other free-spirited, both filled with patriotic ideals and untapped talents. This relatability of Li Bai as the wild one and Gao Shi as the restrained one stirs resonance among today’s audience. While we are all different, many of us have experienced a sense of self-importance akin to Li Bai’s. When faced with setbacks in the world, we may also harbor a desire to break free from constraints. Through their ups and downs, we feel a sense of sorrow but also a powerful uplifting force. Gao Shi’s quiet cultivation, culminating in his accomplishments during turbulent times, earns our admiration for his strong faith and envy for his eventual transformation in adversity.

Chinese civilization possesses outstanding innovativeness, which can only be sustained through adhering to traditions while forging ahead and creating innovations. The popularity of “Chang An” reflects the surging tide of excellent traditional culture.


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