Author：Verbena C. W，Elaine Yang，Kitten Wang
Fantasy is loved around the world. The Chinese audience has loved fantasy as much as if not more than international audiences. In late 2014, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies earned 761 hundred million Yuan at the box office. In June of 2015, The Journey of Flower, an original fantasy drama from China made a stunning debut; it surpassed all other fantasy movie and TV shows with a streaming record of more than 20 billion times in just three months.
When we ask why The Journey of Flower can achieve such an amazing record, the answers lie undoubtedly within the glamorous world of fantasy, the mythical love story portrayed by beautiful characters, as well as the sensory stimulation provided by high-tech 3D effects. There have been plenty of fantasy entertainment products from China, as numerous as Western countries, some of which were remade for international audiences, such as the new kung fu-themed show, Badlands, which was adapted from the legendary Chinese novel, The Journey to the West.
The Journey of Flower was set in the East during primordial times. A naive and kind young woman named Flower arrived at Changliu Mountain to learn magic from Shangxian Bai Zihua, however, she fell in love with her teacher. In ancient China, teachers were considered elders and parent-like, for a student to fall in love with a teacher was akin to incest, and is much more controversial than the forbidden love between humans and vampires in Twilight. Even more dramatic, the biggest taboo in this school of magic was falling in love (called a “curse”). Bai Zihua has to kill Flower in order to avoid his curse, or he could either die or become a demon. The story made the teacher and student go through much torment, one was forced into becoming a demon while the other was almost crazed, and both were trapped in cycles of pain and hurt. Viewers called the show heartbreaking and extremely touching.
Perhaps some international audiences might believe Chinese-style fantasy to be mysterious, in fact, while Eastern and Western cultures have big differences, there are many similarities which are enough to break through cultural barriers and help everyone enjoy the visual feast of fantasy. In Journey of Flower, Changliu Mountain is similar to Hogwarts Academy in Harry Potter, while Shangxian is a title similar to professor at Hogwarts. Bai Zihua and Flower as teacher and student were the same as Professor Dumbledore and a female Harry. When Harry flew on a broom, so did Flower fly on her sword using magic from Chinese fantasy. When Harry chanted a mantra to unleash magic, Flower also chanted a mantra to use energy to defeat monsters. Western fantasy fans may feel a kinship toward this show with these familiar elements.
For special effects, Journey of Flower used the same Hollywood team who worked on Avatar, along with an excellent Chinese special effects team, in order to create the magical world of the show. It was shot among karst topographical areas of China’s Guangxi Province using auto-pilot technology. The choice of location also made some audience members joke that the show looked like Godzilla.
The similarities and differences in Eastern and Western-style fantasy does not end here, many more fascinating details are there for the audiences to explore, which is why more and more Chinese and international directors and investors are working on this new trend. The fantasy movie, Ten III. peach, would start shooting in November of 2015. As guided by Anthony LaMolinara, an Oscar-winning director, and together with the Chinese production team, the story will portray the endless entanglements between fox princess Baiqian and fairy prince Yehua.