Meet the man behind screen hit animation Monkey King

By Xu Jing ( ) Updated: 2015-07-31 13:30:00

Meet the man behind screen hit animation Monkey King

A poster of "Monkey King: Hero is Back". [Photo provided to]

Tian admitted that he made a movie that's a traditional Chinese story with a classic Hollywood structure. "For me, the Hollywood style is to tell a simple story with the most abundant details. We did follow such a way to make our movie. To some degree, the kernel of our story is a little bit Hollywood-style: with inspiration from a child, a sorehead, middle-age guy found his true self and became a hero again," he said.

He thought that the only way to compete with Hollywood is to find a connection on cultural and emotional levels. He tried to tell the story in a Chinese way, using traditional philosophy and aesthetics to explain the world in Chinese people's eyes.

"Chinese people are willing to release their emotions slowly rather than express them directly. When a Chinese feels happy, he normally will not dance with joy like Westerners. Even as a child, the liveliness of an American child is totally different from a Chinese child. In the main, we are more introverted. In our design, the monkey king doesn’t speak that much, but he is emotional," Tian explained.

Hayao Miyazaki, a famous Japanese animation director, is Tian's favorite. "He made animation movies for adults. His work is really appealing. He led me to carefully ponder what Chinese animation should be. In addition to aspects of personality, the Chinese way doesn't mean that we have to make movie based on stories from ancient times, but to show our own values and philosophy with oriental aesthetic elements, such as the music, the scenery, or the constructions," he added.

Although the movie drew its inspiration from Journey to the West, which has been universally praised in China for centuries, Tian and his team set the characters and wrote the screenplay based on their own understanding.

In the original work, the monkey king is aggressive and fearless with boundless supernatural power. His master, a middle-aged monk, is kind-hearted, sometimes even too observant of conventional standards.

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