ABSTRACT

This study focuses on animated propaganda produced in mainland China in the 1940s–1970s. The analyses of puppet films (The Emperor’s Dream, 1947; Wanderings of Sanmao, 1958; Rooster Crows at Midnight, 1964; The Little 8th Route Army, 1973) demonstrate how animation and Maoist doctrine became tightly but dynamically entangled. This discussion begins with the brief overview of the recent Chinese independent animation that thematizes China’s history. It is claimed that uncovering how historically animation has assimilated and petrified the imposed ideological requirements, deepens the understanding of the contemporary production. The discussion emphasizes the main concerns of the history of Maoist idea, outlines the landscape of progressive social and cultural movements. Animation, an expression of ‘practical ideology’, was subjected to remolding in accordance with changeable formulations of Mao Zedong Thought. Historicized and contextualized analyses take into account ideologically formative texts and concepts of politicized realism reoccurring in the history of Maoist China’s cinema. The presented overview of English-language source literature is followed by the reflection on national style; however, this study restrains from discussing specificity of fine arts qualities in animation. Its purpose is to observe how the changes of ideological practices and paradigms influenced animated propaganda in its task to universalize the vision of history. It is argued that animation has constructed a specific ‘founding myth’ which involved deindividualized but highly symbolic actants, mythicized, ‘prior to 1949-Liberation’, time, and equated national cause (war with the Japanese invaders), political conflict (fight with the Chinese Nationalist Party, KMT), and class struggle.