The film is reviewed and commented from the educational perspective. It was produced based on a Chinese mythology, Lotus Lantern 《宝莲灯》. This animated version is suitable for students with intermediate Chinese language proficiency level. Please see the references section below for the plot summaries.
The film focuses on the love between Chen Xiang (the son) and San Sheng Mu (the goddess mother) and Chen Xiang’s battle against Er Lang Shen (San Sheng Mu’s brother and a god). San Sheng Mu, a goddess, falls in love with a mortal man and gives birth to Chen Xiang. To pursue her love, she chooses to live a happy life on earth with her husband and son against the will of Er Lang Shen, an evil god in heaven. She is therefore punished by her brother, who separates her from her son and locks her up at the bottom of a mountain in the heaven. When Chen Xiang grows up and finds out his mother’s whereabouts, he decides to battle against his uncle. Empowered by the magic lotus lantern, he overcomes all the unimaginable obstacles, defeats Er Lang Shen and rescues his mother.
Love and bravery are common themes in literature and films. Students would learn how loving and brave characters are portrayed in the film. Magic powers are also common in mythology. Students may discuss how the magic lantern turns Chen Xiang into a super powerful man and helps him win the battle against an evil God. They’ll also learn that imageries are used artistically to create lyrical emotions and that use of imageries is an effective literary device. Beautiful lotus ponds are shown at the beginning and end of the film. At the beginning, Shan Sheng Mu and Chen Xiang are having a good time boating in a lotus pond. In the end, they walk towards each other on a rainbow bridge to be reunited, and beneath them is a pond with fishes swimming and frogs jumping between the lotus flowers. Lotus symbolizes beauty, grace, and purity and represents beautiful, pure and noble San Sheng Mu who is born from the heaven full of evils, but remains pure and kind; the pond symbolizes a happy and peaceful land. When Chen Xiang points the lotus pond to San Sheng Mu at the end of the film, the audience knows that they will start a new happy life together.
I would play clips of Disney film, Mulan, so that students may compare the similarities and differences between the two films. Students would have discussions on the common themes, such as love between a child and parent, bravery, good vs evil, and use of imageries and arts. They would give presentations by acting out the characters in the film or creating a story book for the class.
A link to the animated film site: http://tv.cntv.cn/video/C30799/DDCDCA4F35F646918623D81BD0F9DB3C
Synopsis of the film in Chinese: http://www.1905.com/mdb/film/62207/scenario/?fr=mdbypsy_jq
Synopsis of a new version of the Lots Lantern film in English: http://www.ancientchinese.net/series/lotuslantern/