Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: May 16, 1931
Rating:  ★★★★½
Review:

Although this cartoon is one of those Silly Symphonies from 1931 using the half dance-routine half story formula, it is one of the most beautiful and most entertaining Silly Symphonies of the era.

The film is inspired by a Western view on a mythical ancient China. The film is without any dialogue and makes effective use of Albert Ketèlbey’s musical piece ‘In a Chinese Temple garden’ to create an oriental atmosphere. It tells a simple story of a little fisherman who saves a girl from drowning, falls in love with her and rescues her from an evil mandarin and a large (Western and fire-breathing) dragon.

After ‘Mother Goose Melodies‘ this is the studio’s second take at the human figure. The result is a mixed bag. The heroin’s movements are still cartoony, for example, and she walks with her knees sideways. Even worse, the long-legged China-man has no hint of realism at all. Moreover, the hero’s size is quite inconsistent, suddenly becoming very small when fighting the evil mandarin. On the other hand, the boy and girl are elegantly drawn, especially their hands. The two easily gain the audience’s sympathy and transcend the stereotypes that occupy most of the film.

Together with ‘Mother Goose Melodies’, ‘The China Plate’ is the most elaborate of the early Silly Symphonies. It’s surprisingly fast-paced and full of action. The complete cartoon is one of sheer delight.

Watch ‘The China Plate’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No. 18
To the previous Silly Symphony: Mother Goose Melodies
To the next Silly Symphony: The Busy Beavers

Advertisements