The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven-
Mythical ancient China. Born from some magic stones that fell to Earth a long time ago when Goddess Nüwa mended the sky, Sun Wukong, aka Monkey King, lives on Flower-Fruit Mountain, where he leads a community of other monkeys with his magical powers. One day, after breaking his halberd, he learns he can get a new one from Dragon King of the Eastern Sea, whom he visits in his underwater lair. Annoyed that Monkey King doesn't find any of his halberds heavy enough, Dragon King tells him he can borrow anything he can pick up, and Monkey King makes off with a massive pillar - the Sea-Calming Gold-Banded Cudgel - which Dragon King had used to pin down the ocean. Monkey King is able to shrink and expand it to any size he wants. Infuriated, Dragon King petitions Celestial Jade Emperor for the return of the cudgel, and the latter, on the advice of God of the Great White Star, sends an envoy summoning Monkey King to his presence.
Also known as Havoc in Heaven. Hearing that the Dragon King has many excellent weapons, The Monkey King bullies his way into his underwater palace.
The Dragon King shows him the fabled Gold-Banded Cudgel, and jokes that Monkey is welcome to take it if he can carry it. Much to the Dragon King’s annoyance, Monkey discovers that the Cudgel obeys orders. He shrinks it to a portable size, and makes off with it, causing the wily King to complain to the Jade Emperor that Monkey is a thief. It is decided that Monkey should be offered a sinecure position in Heaven to keep him out of trouble – ministers select Master of the Heavenly Stables as suitably small-fry. Initially affronted at such a lowly post, Monkey soon begins to enjoy his new job, though it causes chaos in the stables. Proclaiming himself to be the Great Sage Equal of Heaven, Monkey returns to Earth to sulk, where he is pursued by the heavenly warriors Lijing and Nezha… Originally released in two parts (1961 and 1964) Wan Laiming’s cel animation retelling of three early chapters of Journey to the West was to become the signature cartoon of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. Making strong use of Beijing Opera motifs, particularly in music and movement, the brightly-coloured film also received Party approval – at the time, it was regarded as a metaphor for the havoc caused in bourgeois China by the young, dynamic Chairman Mao. Shown to acclaim at the Locarno Film Festival in 1965, its lead character’s distinctive theatrical-simian features have made him the logo-animal for the studio, and inevitably led to his appearance in several other Chinese cartoons, from the semi-sequel MONKEY CONQUERS THE DEMON, to less accomplished cameos in LOTUS LANTERN and DINGDING VS THE MONKEY KING.
Thanks to Far East Film Festival