Chinese animation 100
Published: Jul 25, 2022 06:05 PM
A scene from Nezha Conquers the Dragon King Photo: IC

A scene from Nezha Conquers the Dragon King Photo: IC

Chinese fantasy animation: 'Nezha Conquers the Dragon King'

Nezha Conquers the Dragon King is a classic Chinese cartoon film produced by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio and released in 1979. The film is an adaptation of a story about the deity Nezha from the Chinese fantasy novel Investiture of the Gods. The plot focuses on the fight between Nezha and the dragon king, the Chinese god of water and weather.

The film was originally conceived in the 1950s in collaboration with a Russian film studio, but it was later canceled due to financial issues and cultural divergence. 

Twenty years later, the project was brought back with Wang Shuchen as general director, Yan Dingxian as chief animator and Xu Jingda working on artistic design. 

The production crew for Nezha Conquers the Dragon King was made up of three directors, more than 40 animators, three photographers and many technical and support staff. Working day and night, they made 50-60 million drawings in order to bring the film to life. 

Nezha Conquers the Dragon King was the first Chinese wide-screen animated film. According to photographer of the film Duan Xiaoxuan, the idea of a wide-screen film was supported by the studio, but the zoom lens used for wide-screen films was hard to find at that time. In the end, Duan had to borrow a zoom lens from the Shanghai Film Studio. Although the process of photographing the cells was tough, there fortunately were no technical flaws in the final film, recalled another photographer Jiang Youyi. 

The hero of the film, Nezha, is a well-known Chinese mythological figure. Born as a ball of flesh, he is the third child of the Heavenly General Li Jing and his wife, Lady Yin. With the Universe Ring around his body and the Red Armillary Sash around his shoulders, Nezha is a brave youth who has a strong sense of justice.

Previously appearing in classic Chinese animated film Havoc in Heaven, Nezha has always been an alluring character for Chinese animators. Besides Nezha Conquers the Dragon King, Nezha has also starred in many Chinese animated works, including animated series The Legend of Nezha (2003) created by the China International Television Corporation and animated film Nezha (2019), which broke numerous all-time records at the Chinese mainland box office. 

Nezha Conquers the Dragon King was the first Chinese-language animated film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival. 

On May 30, 2014, Google paid homage to this film with an animated doodle on their search engine's homepage. 

Global Times