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My Asian animation class has really expanded my boundaries of thought and perception. I have found a lot of inspiration from the early Chinese animators, especially Te Wei. Te Wei was a cartoonist in 1935 and wasn't really thrilled about animation and the work it required. Upon the invasion of the Japanese in 1937, he became a part of an anti-Japanese propaganda brigade. Te Wei spent time in the reeducation camps developed during the Cultural Revolution after he refused to write self-criticism regarding his failure to live and work in a communist manner. He was put into a tiny room for one year where he still managed to draw on a pane of glass that could be quickly erased if anyone entered the room. Te Wei was tortured and sent to the countryside to raise pigs. Another animator by the name of ADa was sent to the same place and the two would draw images of their abusers in the dirt. I think having a creative companion kept them going. They were finally able to return to animation in the 70's. Mainly propaganda films were produced, with the animators still trying to process the hardships they had been through and find a place for the animation world in this rigid society. Te Wei credits the Cultural Revolution for lighting the fire that created the golden age of animation for China. In 1988 he directed "Feelings of Mountain and Water", an ink and water masterpiece. It utilizes and treasures the tradition of ink painting in Japanese culture in a new and captivating way.

Kristen AshtonComment