Charm of Journey to the West

Updated: 2014-11-19 07:58

(China Daily)

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The repeat telecasts of Journey to the West, a TV series produced in the 1980s based on one of China's four ancient classics, demonstrate the lack of good ideas for TV dramas, says an article in Qianjiang Evening News. Excerpts:

Journey to the West, which has been telecast on the Chinese mainland more than 3,000 times since it was produced in 1986, has reportedly applied for a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

So what is the reason behind the cross-generational popularity of Journey to the West?

As a masterpiece consisting of top-level artists of the time, classic scenes and popular songs, Journey to the West represents the highest form of a TV play in China. Together with The Romance of the Three Kingdom, the Heroes of the Marshes and Dream of Red Mansions, the other three famous Chinese novels that were also made into TV plays, Journey to the West is watched and talked about by audiences every time it is re-telecast.

The reason why the 1986-version of Journey to the West has become so popular across generations is that it can prompt children to dream and adults to have the courage of their conviction. Many other fairy and fictional tales have been translated into TV dramas and films in the following decades but they still cannot rival the popularity of Journey to the West.

Its popularity over the past three decades is also proof of the lackluster history of TV plays in China. Many other fictional TV dramas have been produced after Journey to the West, but none have been able to satisfy the quest of knowledge of children of even this generation. Indeed, there are few classic TV plays that our children can watch for sheer pleasure, which albeit carries an inherent message. And we don't have dramas like Superman and Transformers and Detective Conan to inspire our children.

True, Journey to the West has filled the life of generations with a visual feast and compact storyline. But it is a pity that no other TV drama has reached the same height. We desperately need more exemplary TV plays and films to quench our children's thirst for new knowledge.

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