The original Nezha animation is now streaming in the UK and Ireland, which brings questions to the version that the BBC aired in the 1980s.
As part of Chinese Cinema Season, an online festival which lasts for 3 months with an ambitious programme of over 50 films, Nezha Conquers the Dragon King (1979) 2K restoration will be available for audience to stream in the UK and Ireland.
After its first appearance at Cannes Film Festival as an Out-of-competition screening in 1980, the BBC quickly bought the distribution right to this Chinese animation classic. However, the version that BBC Two aired in an evening on 23 December 1984 was somehow modified.
Not only English dubbing was added to the film, but a new soundtrack was also written to replace the original soundtrack in Beijing opera style. For this English version, a new director was credited, Louis Elman.
Nezha Conquers the Dragon King (1979) was produced by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio in China, the most historic and respected studio for animation in the country. The film was directed by Wang Shuchen, Yan Dingxian and Xu Jingda, all were top animators in the country at that time.
Being showed alongside other 9 films as part of the “Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro” programme at Chinese Cinema Season, audience in the UK and Ireland will be able to enjoy the original version of Nezha and compare the one which they watched in the 1980s. All 10 films have been restored to the highest quality standard, appearing in the UK and Ireland for the very first time.
We would like to use this online screening as a public enquiry, to invite people to share their experience with us after watching this original version. The Beijing opera style soundtrack was the soul to this animation. We are interested to know more about the decisions made by the BBC in the 1980s and what other changes they have made to this film. At least, we have to find a way to acknowledge and credit the original directors, two of which have now passed away sadly.
Presented by independent distributor Trinity CineAsia, Filming East Festival and UK-China Film Collab, Chinese Cinema Season (12 February – 12 May) is the largest online festival dedicated to Chinese-language film in the UK and Europe to date.
The festival has now been extended to 23 May.