• Golden Globe Awards

Snake White: Love Endures (China)

The Legend of the White Snake is one of the Four Great Folktales in Chinese literature. It is about a beautiful snake spirit who falls in love with a human named Xu Xian. While the Daoist search for immortality and reincarnation are at the core of the story, it also explores other ever-lasting themes, such as love transcending time and traditions, accepting yourself for who you are rather than who you’re expected to be.
This folk tale has been adapted into major Chinese operas, films, and television series, among which a 1985 Taiwanese television series New Legend of Madame White Snake and the 1993 film Green Snake directed by Tsui Hark are the most popular. In 2019, The Legend of the White Snake’s first computer animated adaptation White Snake was released in China, the United States and Canada. It is GKIDS’ first Chinese animated film release in the U.S. and is in contention for this year’s Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. Shortly after White Snake was released, Snake White: Love Endures, a traditional Cantonese opera version of this tale, made its big-screen debut globally.
Directed by Zhang Xianfeng who helmed the Kung Fu Traveler franchise, Snake White: Love Endures stays quite faithful to the original tale. The story takes place at the idyllic West Lake of the Southern Song Dynasty capital Hangzhou. A kind Xu Xian saves a young white snake from a hawk’s attack and places it back in the lake. The white snake then spends a thousand years cultivating herself to become a spirit with formidable supernatural power. Not only can she fly and teleport herself to another dimension, she can also summon water, wind and change the weather at will. The white snake has made a promise to herself that she will thank her savior Xu Xian by marrying him in the future. After one thousand years, Xu has reincarnated many times and now he is a young and promising doctor. After transforming into a beautiful human and naming herself Lady White, the snake spirit choreographs an encounter with Xu at the West Lake. The two fall in love and get married. However, this inter-realm union has violated the law of the universe and Lady White will be punished by Monk Fahai, the guardian of Dharma. Lady White, now pregnant with Xu’s child, has to protect her family from Fahai’s chase and try her best to keep her snake identity from her innocent husband.
Performed in Cantonese opera, Snake White: Love Endures marinates hyper-stylized characters, photo-realistic stages and cinematic expressionism in strikingly painted landscapes, creating an illusion as if audiences have a three-dimension view of an opera stage watching scenes moving between well-decorated sets. Involving music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting, the film presents major elements of traditional Cantonese opera in epic sword-fighting battle scenes.
The film has won several awards including Best Artistic Contribution at the Hainan Island International Film Festival, Best Opera/Musical at the Golden Maple International Festival and People’s Choice Awards at the Pingyao International Film Festival in 2019.