Wednesday, March 12, 2008
西游记 Journey to the West
Journey to the West (or The Monkey King) is one of the four classic novels in Chinese literary history. If you ever ask a Chinese person about Chinese literature they will bring up these four classics, Journey to the West being one of them.
The story is about how the Monkey King, the Pig and Friar Sand protect the Monk Tripitaka on his journey to find the Buddhist scriptures.
The book is written like a comic book with no pictures. Each chapter ends with, "Listen to the next installment to hear how he was dealt with the following morning," or "If you don't know what happened to Monkey King's life, then listen to the next installment," which makes reading it a bit awkward, but overall Chinesely pleasant.
In the 80s a TV show was made which plays out the novel, chapter by chapter using amazing special effects and lots of smoke machines. You can turn on Chinese TV at ANYTIME and this show will be on. Every Chinese person living in China today knows and loves this TV series. I just bought the entire show and am also reading the book. Reading the book helps me understand just what, pray tell, is going on during the show. It seems the producers had a low budget to make this highly fantastic novel and so some of the scenes are hard to understand without any previous knowledge of the story.
Here is a clip from the show...
In this clip, a very fancy party is going on in one part of heaven while the devious monkey king is causing ruckus in another part. He's gotten drunk off heavenly jade liquor, downed a bunch of golden pills of refined elixir and stolen a plethora of heavenly treats to take to his monkey friends down on earth. Now, he's trying to escape the floating ladies with lanterns.