38. The China Plate – Wilfred Jackson

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SUMMARY: Two young Chinese lovers upset a large warrior in their pursuit of a butterfly and must use their wits to evade him.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘The China Plate’ is one of the more inventive early Silly Symphonies and, unlike many of them, it also has some semblance of a plot. Starting as the usual series of gags set to music, it quickly becomes an enjoyable adventure story featuring sword fighting and dragons. The climactic reveal (not really a surprise given the film’s title) that the events are taking place inside the world of a willow pattern plate, somehow make the film all the more charming. Also, for a 30s cartoon exclusively featuring Chinese characters, ‘The China Plate’ largely avoids grotesque stereotypes, instead presenting attractively designed characters of all shapes and sizes, as opposed to the slit-eyed miniatures that disgraced many early animations.

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