Hakujaden Anime Film Gets Digital Remaster for Cannes Screening

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Screening of 1st color anime feature celebrates film's 60th anniversary, 100th anniversary of anime

The official website for the Cannes Film Festival announced on April 19 that it will screen a restored and remastered version of Toei Animation's Hakujaden (The White Snake Enchantress) film as part of its Cannes Classics screenings at this year's event. The film is the first color anime feature film ever produced.

The new version of the film is a 4K digital remaster scan and restoration drawn from the 35mm film negatives, tape materials, and cels. Toei Lab Tech and Toei Digital Center handled the restoration.

The film's story is based on the Chinese "Legend of the White Snake" folktale. The screening will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the film, which debuted in 1958, as well as the 100th anniversary of Japanese animation.

Production on the film began shortly after Toei's purchase of Nichido Eigasha and its renaming as Toei Doga in 1956. Taiji Yabushita directed the film, and it features the animation work of influential Japanese animators such as Akira Daikubara, Yasuji Mori, Yasuo Otsuka, and Reiko Okuyama. The film is notable for its Disney-inspired style, which reflects Toei president Hiroshi Okada's goal at the time to turn Toei Doga into the "Disney of Japan." The film is often contrasted with the style and production techniques of Osamu Tezuka's Mushi Production, which later came to define the style of Japanese television anime.

This year's Cannes Film Festival will take place on May 14 to 25.

Sources: Cannes Film Festival's website, Animation Business Journal (Tadashi Sudo)

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