Living Revolution | Movies | Feature Films

Great Uproar in Heaven
(Shanghai Fine Arts Film, 1964, color)
Da nao tian gong (cartoon)
Dir.: Wan Lanming

Based on a well-known episode from the classic novel, Journey to the West, Uproar in Heaven is a two-hour, 11,000 foot-long cartoon full of beautiful drawings and supernatural feats. The ever-playful monkey king Sun Wukong makes a trip to the Dragon Palace and takes possession of the pillar holding the sky vault. By magic, he shrinks the pillar to the size of a needle and stores it in his ear. With this powerful weapon, he disturbs the peace in Heaven by beating up the Jade Emperor’s gatekeepers. He is temporarily recruited to a petty celestial job but, feeling bored, proceeds to steal the peaches of longevity, swallow the elixir of immortality and ruin the banquet prepared for the Queen Mother of the West. What is more, no deities or generals in Heaven can prove his equal in battle. Traveling between Heaven and Earth, he is an enduring – and, indeed, endearing – symbol of intelligence, courage, and free will in Chinese culture.

For Wan Lanming, Uproar in Heaven was a dream come true, because he had been forced to abandon his initial plans for the film in the early 1940s. The film won a number of international prizes, including one at the 1978 London Film Festival. It has broken export records for Chinese animation. By 1984, it had been distributed to forty-four countries and regions. In June 1983, nearly 100,000 people saw the film after it premiered in twelve Paris theatres. The film has also been screened on French and British televisions.

(Encyclopedia of Chinese Film, London: Routledge, 1998, p.346.)


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