Chinese myths have set the foundation for China’s history and cultural relevance. More than that, many internationally acclaimed movies take inspiration from Chinese mythology so much so that soon, we’re going to lose count!
Here are some of the movies worth watching:
White Snake, a Chinese animated fairytale, is based on the classic Chinese fable about a female snake demon. It’s even counted as one of China’s Four Great Folktales. In the movie, the shape-shifting demon snake, Blanca, falls in love with a romantic human snake hunter and loses her memory while disguised as a human woman.
In the original text, the snake demon is named, Bai Suzhen, and the human that she falls in love with, Xu Xian, marries her. The couple then open up a medicine shop. In the later versions, the lovers are depicted as immortals who fall in love and are banished from Heaven because celestial laws forbid their romance. Both are eventually reincarnated as a male human and a female white snake spirit.
The Monkey King
Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King, is believed to be a trickster god in Chinese mythology. He is one of the most powerful gods with unmatched superhuman strength and the ability to transform into 72 different objects and animals.
The action-packed movie, The Monkey King, is based on the literary classic, Journey to the West, written by Wu Cheng’en during the Ming Dynasty. The film portrays the Monkey King pretty much the same way he has been depicted in Chinese mythology, along with the Goddess Nuwa and the Jade Emperor who both play significant roles in the movie as well.
The 8 Immortals in School
This comedic film’s characters are based on the Eight Immortals of Chinese mythology. These immortals are legendary and powerful deities that each represent the male, the female, the old, the young, the rich, the noble, the poor, and the humble Chinese. In Taoist legends, the Eight were called the “Roaming Immortals” as they travel and cross several seas. As beings that know the secrets of nature, each of their magic can be wielded and transferred to a powerful tool that can give life or destroy evil.
In the film, these Eight Immortals leave the Heavens in search of “The Evil Heart.” In the mortal world, they’re disguised as high school students. But they find life on earth challenging since they aren’t allowed to freely perform their powers. Despite this, they learn the importance of working together to overcome a crisis.
Big Fish and Begonia
The animated movie, Big Fish and Begonia, is partially based on the Taoist philosophy of Zhuangzi and an ancient Chinese text, Classic of Mountain and Seas, which is a compilation of mythic geography and beasts.
The film tells the story of a 16-year-old girl who sacrifices her immortality to save the life of a boy who previously saved her. She embarks on a quest in dolphin form, traveling between realms to the land of the Others. But she discovers that the opportunity to do so comes at a price.
The Chinese god Ne Zha is considered a very powerful protection deity who ensures that children are obedient to their parents. The young god is believed to have been born mortal and has become the source of anger for the Dragon King who would stop at nothing to kill him. After sacrificing himself to stop the conflict, he is eventually reincarnated out of a body made from lotus roots.
In the movie, due to his superhuman strength, Ne Zha is feared by everyone, making him an outsider. Throughout the film, he shows he’s capable of humane traits and flaws, including getting into trouble a lot. The storyline continues on the same path as the myth, wherein Ne Zha rises to save his community from the Dragon King.