Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Monkey Goes West (1966)

The Monkey Goes West (1966)

November 4th, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

The Monkey Goes West is an adaptation of the classic 16th century novel A Journey To the West, which is generally regarded as one of the four greatest Chinese novels. It is based upon the 7th century journey of Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk who illegally traveled from China to India in order to bring back early Buddhist texts. This accomplishment was instrumental in reversing the anti Buddhist stance of the then ruling Tang Dynasty.
In this fictionalized account of the journey, human involvement is largely curtailed in favor of a wide range of magical beings. It seems that the flesh of the monk will grant great power to whatever creature eats it. To protect the monk, his phantasmal allies capture the Monkey King, a mischievous being possessing great power. Later other allies join the group and together they journey through one danger after the other.
This particular adaptation of the story was created by the Shaw Brothers studio, which dominated Hong Kong film production of the era. It recounts early events in the novel, including the capture of the Monkey King. It was latter follower by two sequels, Cave of the Silken Web (1967) The Land of Many Perfumes (1968) based around other major events in the novel. In tone they are primarily children’s films, although the outlandish sets and costumes make it appealing to those of any age.

Hong Kong, Director Hoh Mung Wa, Cast Diana Chang Chung-Wen, Ho Fan, Yueh Hua, Paang Paang and Fan Mei Sheng, 111 minutes, in Mandarin with English subtitles

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