A Barefoot Buddha

Directed by Xue Feng

China. Animation/ 09’20”/ 2021


A young man, eager to transcend the mundane problems of his daily life, embarks on a Buddhist quest. What he finds is animation drawings inspired by 2000 year old murals in the Buddhist caves in Dunhuang. The narration is delivered in the form of traditional opera by well-known Chinese shadow-theater, musicians and singers.



This movie can be said to be a hymn about maternal love from more than 1000 years ago in ancient China.

This film,by animation language,aims to achieve the integration and dialogue between Chinese classical aesthetics and modern universal values .

Firstly, in terms of narrative concept, the modern film language has reshaped the structure of the ancient religious story.

Exactly as the Bible, Chinese Buddhism has many stories about the Buddha and the Pope.  Barefoot Buddha,however, is adapted from one of the most special stories, in which ordinary people take the place of “Buddha” and become the main character, the love of mother is equal to the love of Buddha , and the brilliance of human nature even outstrips the brilliance of God.

In the farming era 1000 years ago, “don’t worry about food and clothes ” was not only the power source of ordinary people’s pursuit of a happy life, but also the most simple and beautiful wish of people. In this film, the director,therefore, uses “food” and “clothes” as the overall narrative clues, combines the hero’s dream with fantasy space and real life space, highlighting the theme of the story through sharp contrast. And stick to the sense of reality of ancient ancestors. At the same time, in the plot, the director utilizes a large number of classic plots in Buddhist stories, a fact expands more reading space for audiences familiar with Buddhist culture.

Secondly, in the aspect of vision, the film revives the well-known Dunhuang Buddhist mural in China.

Dunhuang mural, a world-renowned human cultural heritage, was stems from more than 2000 years ago. It was formed the unique aesthetic style of Dunhuang mural through the oxidation of mural color, wind erosion and damage in the process of thousands years of vicissitudes . This film deliberately strengthens the “damage” of ancient mural. Chinese aesthetics holding that the more incomplete the mural is, the more possibility it is to be. Hence, the picture in the film has both a very complicated and delicate side and a damaged and missing side. Meanwhile, at the aspect of composition of the film, the director gives up the “perspective” in the western aesthetics and adopts the “scattered point” composition in the eastern aesthetics.The proportion of characters and scenery subverts the law of modern vision as well, which renders the film have a unique visual system.

Finally, the voice of the movie uses the shadow puppet “WANWANQIANG” rap in Huazhou, Shaanxi Province, China,it is a Chinese opera art with a history of nearly 380 years. The whole performance of the opera was completed by the famous old artists , who are over 70 years old, have carved out the thickness of the film very brilliantly. This old artist band has 50 years of performance experience.Their lyrics,although, are Chinese dialects, but they have a long and sorrowful aria, full of emotion, and are very infectious, which can move audiences all over the world beyond the language barrier.