Animating the translocal : the McDull Films as a cultural and visual expression of Hong Kong

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review


Unlike classic Hollywood, the Hong Kong movie industry has never nurtured a parallel assembly line devoted to the production of animation. Beginning as a two-person team creating McMug comic strips, Brian Tse (writer) and Alice Mak (cartoonist) have turned their initially modest creative effort into a series of books, educational kits, multimedia productions, television programs and, finally, the McDull feature-length animated movies. As the production mode of McDull movies has shifted from “100% Hong Kong” to Hong Kong-China co-productions, changes in the content and thematic emphases have followed. By examining key narrative tropes and production constraints within the context of larger transformations in Hong Kong movie production practice, we argue that the four McDull movies produced between 2001 to 2012 sometimes articulate and sometimes challenge the idea of “local consciousness”, and shift from a relatively static place-based concept to an open and porous concept highlighting interconnections and multiplicity (Massey 1994). In addition, we discuss the series’ rather distinctive visual style, which is quite specifically designed to augment, complement, illustrate, and comment upon the social environments inhabited by the characters through images that are themselves emphatically local and recognizable, yet often defamiliarized. Cumulatively, the stories and visual imagery of the McDull films demonstrate the rise of local consciousness and the quest for identity in Hong Kong popular culture in the late 1990s, the Hong Kong people’s changing spatial practices, the development of a translocal imaginary after the 1997 handover, and the struggle to cope with China’s cultural censorship policies and renationalization practices in the 21st Century.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA companion to Hong Kong cinema
EditorsEsther M. K. CHEUNG, Gina MARCHETTI, Esther C. M. YAU
Place of PublicationChichester
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781118883594
ISBN (Print)9780470659281
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameWiley-Blackwell Companions to National Cinemas
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons

Bibliographical note

The writing of this chapter was significantly aided by the assistance of five Hong
Kong filmmakers and above‐the‐line interviewees. Since all of them are currently
working on Hong Kong–China co‐productions, they are not identified by name in
the text.


Dive into the research topics of 'Animating the translocal : the McDull Films as a cultural and visual expression of Hong Kong'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this