Saturday, September 20, 2008

Havoc in Heaven

Havoc in Heaven , also known as Uproar in Heaven, is a feature film directed by Wan Laiming and produced by all four of the Wan brothers. The film was created at the height of the Chinese animation industry in the 1960s, and received numerous awards. It earned the brothers domestic and international recognition.


Wan Guchan, of the and one of the animators of the feature film '''', began planning the production of ''Havoc in Heaven'' after its release in 1941. However, the project was delayed for over a decade after the Japanese capture of Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and latter by the Chinese Civil War.

Wan Laiming returned to Shanghai as director of Shanghai Animation Film Studio in 1954, and production of ''Havoc in Heaven'' resumed shortly thereafter. The first part of the film was completed in by Wan Laiming and Wan Guchan. The second part was completed in with the assistance of Wan Chaochen and Wan Dihuan. Both parts of the film were screened together for the first time in . This was the last major of the Second Golden Era of Cinema of China. A year later, the entire industry was effectively shut down by the Cultural Revolution.


The story is based on the earliest chapters of the classic story ''Journey to the West''. The main character is Sun Wukong, aka the Monkey King, who goes to heaven in rebellion against the Jade Emperor of heaven.


The name of the movie became a colloquialism in the Chinese language to describe someone making a mess. It became one of the most influential films in all of Asia, animation or not. Countless cartoon adaptations that followed have reused the same classic story ''Journey to the West'', yet many consider this 1964 iteration to be the most original, fitting and memorable.

DVD release

As part of the 40th anniversary of the second part's release, the film was re-released on a 2-disc special edition DVD in 2004. This edition is the original remastered Chinese version of the film, and contains Chinese subtitles in traditional and . An English-subtitled version of the film has not been released, but fan-made English subtitles can be downloaded .


Because this film was so influential, it can be argued that the retelling of a classic literature story became the recipe for making a Chinese animation. Even well after the Cultural Revolution faded, productions from mainland China had a hard time trying new formulas. It is not until recent years when libraries of Disney cartoons and Japanese anime have forced the industry into a new direction.


* Won the outstanding film award at the 1978 .
* Won the 13th Special Interest award at the Czech Republic Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
* Won the best art award and children's literature award at the 2nd Chinese film "Hundred Flowers" festival.


* At the time, the film was also used as a joke metaphor for the "havoc" being caused by Mao Zedong in "heaven" .
*Although it was never translated in English nor released in majority of European countries, it was once broadcasted in Swedish television during the mid 1980's with Hans Alfredson whom described scene for scene on what is happening. It also aired two or three times in USSR in 80s, and became very popular among then youth. Furthermore it was shown in Denmark in the 80s.
*It was also broadcasted by the BBC in 1984. The version broadcast is a longer edit than that of the 40th Anniversary DVD and contains several extended and omitted scenes.

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