“Little Tadpoles Looking for Mother” is China’s first ink and wash animation film, produced by Shanghai Fine Arts Film Studio in 1960 and adapted from the fairy tale of the same name by Fang Huizhen and Sheng Lude. Through the newly born tadpoles, the habits and conditions of various animals are vividly introduced. It is one of the few fine works of ink and wash animation.
At the beginning of the film, a simple and elegant Chinese painting album appeared on the screen. After the cover was opened, it was a small scene of a quiet lotus pond. The lens gradually moved to the screen, and the music of the guqin and pipa rose up, bringing the audience into a beautiful and lyrical ink painting world , The little tadpoles in the pond slowly wriggled.
When spring came, the little tadpoles hatched. They swam happily in the water, and then saw the chicks on the shore follow their mother very affectionately. The little tadpoles were very envious, so they decided to look for their mother. They first met father-in-law, and hurriedly asked father-in-law about his mother’s appearance, and father-in-law told them that their mother had two big eyes. When the tadpoles saw that the goldfish had two big eyes, they happily called the goldfish “mother”, but the goldfish said that the tadpole’s mother had a white belly. The tadpoles continued to search, and they saw a crab with a white belly, and shouted “Mom” to the crabs, but the crab said that their mother had only four legs. The little tadpoles saw that the tortoise had exactly four legs, and thought the tortoise was his mother, but the little tortoise said it was his mother because it looked the same as the tortoise mother. Later, when the little tadpoles met the catfish, they felt that it looked very similar to themselves, and should be their mother, but was almost eaten by the catfish. At this time, the mother frog came to rescue, and the little tadpoles finally found their mother. After a while, they finally grew up to look like their mothers.
In 1959, Xu Jingda wanted to try to make an ink-and-wash style animation. He found the photographer Duan Xiaoxuan. Talking about: “Qi Baishi’s painting can be printed on the basin, it looks very lifelike, can it be made into animation”.
The two also approached Qian Jiajun, the chief technician of the US Film Factory at the time, to study together.
At the 1960 China Art and Film Exhibition, Chen Yi, then Vice Premier of the State Council, heard the report and said: “It would be even better if you can move Qi Baishi’s paintings.”
After the news was passed back to the US Film Studio, they began an ink and wash animation experiment.
The first experimental shot was “a frog jumping off a lotus leaf”.
In this way, after exploring the basic method, a larger-scale experiment was started. All the original animation staff of the whole factory began to produce frogs, fish, shrimps, horses and other clips.
Three months later, “Ink and Wash Animation Experiment” was completed, and multiple tens of seconds of fragments depicting different animals formed a short film.
According to the results of the experiment and the needs of the film, the creative team of the Meiying Studio added six or seven links to the original three or four story links to enrich the plot and add a colorful goldfish image.
In July 1960, the first 15-minute ink-and-wash cartoon “Little Tadpoles Looking for Mother” was born.
1. “Little Tadpoles Looking for Mother” is China’s first ink-and-wash animation. At that time, Shanghai Fine Arts Film Studio used a lot of energy to explore technology to create this work, although the particularity of traditional Chinese painting techniques is achieving a coherent dynamic There are great difficulties in effect, but this problem is solved by shooting technology, and a simple, simple and concise fairy tale world has been created.
2. The creation of the film originated from Mr. Xu Jingda’s idea that “Qi Baishi’s paintings can be printed on the basin and look very lifelike, can they be made into animation”. Vice Premier Chen Yi supported this idea after learning about this idea when he visited the Shanghai Fine Arts Film Studio.
3. The prototype of the ink and wash animation “Little Tadpoles Looking for Mother” comes from the famous ink painting “The Sound of Frogs Ten Miles Out of the Mountain Spring” by the old man Baishi. Fundamentally speaking, the birth of ink and wash animation has its inevitability. It is not only the accumulation and precipitation of traditional Chinese art spirit for decades, but also the influence of the older generation of animators on the heavy land of traditional Chinese ink art. Enlightenment of traditional Chinese aesthetics, and burst of creative passion.