Reframing Chinese animation: from classicism to postmodernism in post-1949 non-commercial Chinese animated films

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Chen, Yuanyuan
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University College Cork
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This thesis focuses on Chinese non-commercial animated films produced from 1949 to date, with the aim of remapping and reframing Chinese animation in the light of existing theories, critiques, and frameworks drawn from studies in animation, film, and screen media. I suggest that Chinese animation has experienced three aesthetic transformations since 1949, primarily influenced by traditional Chinese culture, by Western modernist art and literature and, most recently, by postmodernism, respectively. Thus, the research traces and thoroughly investigates these three distinctive phases of Chinese animation in chronological order, from the classical period (1950s– 1980s) to modernism (1980s–2000s) and postmodernism (after 2000s). More in detail, I first rethink and re-evaluate the success of classical Chinese animation and the Chinese school of animation and, at the same time, I explore the influence of the political situation of the time on Chinese animation. Through careful analysis of A Da (1934–87) and other Chinese animators’ practices and theory, then, I argue that a remarkable modernist transformation took place in Chinese animation between the 1980s and 2000s, mainly driven by Western modernism and the Chinese “cultural fever” movement. Finally, through a discussion of the latest non-commercial animations produced after 2005, and especially those of Bu Hua (1973– ), for the first time I classify and theorize contemporary Chinese animations within a postmodern framework. By reframing existing views and broadening the scope of the analysis to encompass new areas and frameworks, this thesis aims to provide the reader with a comprehensive and systematic understanding of post-1949 Chinese animation and to offer an original contribute to scholarship, also working as a starting point for further research in this area.
Chinese animated film , Classicism , Modernism , Postmodernism
Chen, Y. 2016. Reframing Chinese animation: from classicism to postmodernism in post-1949 non-commercial Chinese animated films. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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