Saturday, July 5, 2008

Kung Fu Panda - Freedom Fighter?

I haven't seen this movie, but based on the ads it seemed to be a decent bit of fluffy entertainment with a standard success-through-hard-work-and-determination plot. I didn't imagine this....

....animated Hollywood comedy "Kung Fu Panda" has led Chinese artists to find fault with their own film industry and call for fewer government controls on culture.

"The film's protagonist is China's national treasure and all the elements are Chinese, but why didn't we make such a film?" Wu Jiang, president of the China National Peking Opera Company, was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency on Saturday.

Lu Chuan, a young film director, applauded "Kung Fu Panda" as a fresh and rich take on Chinese culture, mixing references to martial arts films with classic legends.

Lu said the government was stifling the creativity of China's filmmakers, explaining how he had been asked to make an animated film for the Olympic Games, which will be hosted by Beijing in August, but decided to walk away from the project. "I kept receiving directions and orders on how the movie should be like," he said.

Artists aren't the only ones talking.

A standing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress said that, though there was no secret ingredient to filmmaking success, the government ought to relax its oversight. Opening more space for Chinese artists would allow more innovation, ultimately giving China greater cultural influence abroad, they concluded.

Chinese moviegoers have expressed their opinions as well.

The comedy had earned $16 million at the Chinese box office as of Wednesday, according to its distributors. Any film that grosses $15 million is considered a big hit in China.

It really is hard to predict what can have an effect on a totalitarian regime, especially a free-market hybrid like China,which as far as I know hasn't previously been tried. Perhaps the people who say that free trade will eventually change things there are right.

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