According to the news from Shanghai Animation Film Studio Weibo, the well-known art film artists, first-class director Mr. Dai Tielang passed away at 19:25 on September 4, 2019, aged 89. He was a member of Association International du Film Animation (ASIFA), China Animation Association, China Animation Society, and China Artists Association. Mr. Dai Tielang enjoyed special allowances from the China Council. He was the director and writer of the animated film Black Cat Sheriff.
Dai Tielang was born in 1930 in Singapore and returned to Guangdong, China in 1940. In 1953, Dai Tielang graduated from Beijing Film Academy, and later became the animation designer and art designer for Shanghai Animation Film Studio and Shanghai Film Studio. His main productions included The Proud General, Little Tadpole Looks for Mommy, Mu Di and Heroine Girls on Meadow.
Black Cat Sheriff is one of the earliest animation series in China, which has a far-reaching impact in the history of Chinese animation. It has created a variety of cartoon images with distinctive personalities, such as a just and brave black cat sheriff, a timid and cunning mouse called “one ear”. All the characters have been loved by the audience and praised as “animal star” by children, and is still popular today. Black Cat Sheriff won the Excellent Film Award of The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China from 1986 to 1987. Among them, the first episode won the First Chinese Film Child Cow Award in 1985 and the fourth episode won the first Excellent Children’s Film Oil Doll Award in 1987.
As a childhood memory for more than one generation, Black Cat Sheriff has only five episodes from production to broadcast. Audience could find the words “coming up soon” at the end of the fifth episode, but they never have the chance to watch the sixth one.
In fact, the birth of Black Cat Sheriff was full of ups and downs for Mr. Dai. At first, the first two episodes took 10 months to produce, only to be called off for the reason that “fighting and killing in it is not in line with traditional aesthetics, and the scientific truth is not artistic”. Until a year and a half later, a leader in State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television found it and thought it was good after watching it. The response was also very good after the child preview. Without any advertisement or publicity, Black Cat Sheriff was released.
From the context of the history of Chinese animation, Black Cat Sheriff inherits the previous style of domestic animations, such as the artistic form of linear narration and the modern interpretation of classical stories. But most importantly, it has established its own style and purport.
Black Cat Sheriff aired five episodes, but with the words “coming up soon” at the end of the fifth episode, the audience could never have the chance to watch the sixth episode, because the father of Black Cat got retired.
Yan Dingxian, the former director of Shanghai Animation Film Studio, said in an interview with Peng Pai News in 2014 that Black Cat Sheriff was a mature series at that time, with good social repercussions and strong audience base. Moreover, based on the demand of the studio, it was unlikely to continue on the Black Cat Sheriff series. “I remember that there was no follow-up script submitted at that time. If there were any new script, it would still be filmed.” Yan Dingxian said.
It is said that after retirement, Mr. Dai bought a black cat sheriff’s motorcycle and kept it at home as his treasure.
Dai Tielang has successively worked as an animation designer, character modeler, art designer, director and screenwriter for more than 30 art films in Shanghai Animation Film Studio. He loved the creation and production of fine arts films. He also had great passion for life, science and animals. He always created animated films for children with full enthusiasm. His films were often based on scientific knowledge and full of imagination, which attracted children’s interest, and has left a good childhood memory for generations. Mr. Dai Tielang has made positive contributions to Chinese art film and Chinese national animation industry.
Nowadays, when the audience debunks the low grade and shallowness of a large number of domestic animations, Black Cat Sheriff still remains a clean stream. In fact, many works in the same period as Black Cat Sheriff, such as Calabash Brothers, Zodiac and Magic Cube Building, have more or less the above characteristics, which is why they still remain classics. Today, the memory of Mr. Dai Tielang is also a retrospect of the classics of childhood. The spirit and unique ideas of the predecessors still inspire people today.