Artist: Lily & Honglei Art Studio
Medium: Oil on paper, animation
Year of Completion: 2014
The film Midas melds the political intrigues surrounding a late-20th century Chinese ruler with the Classical tale of the namesake king. These elements join together as a parable for a common fate of despots throughout history.
The first scene in the animation tells of persecution that Midas suffers prior to his ascent to power. He, along with his peers and rivals alike, is made the suffer the humiliation of being paraded in shackles and a dunce hat. As the film continues, Midas gets a glimpse of his tormentor first-hand; he witnesses a laurel-donning god-ruler figure flaying his dissidents to death. All of such proceedings take place in a manner that evokes the trepidations of the Cultural Revolution.
After a lapse of time, Midas finds himself being groomed shortly before he was crowned the successor to the god-ruler seen earlier in the film. When a barber boy removes the coned hat, he lets out a visible expression of shock at the sight of the donkey ears hidden underneath. Following the revelation, the young man does not keep Midas’ monstrous nature a secret as he is expected to. Rather, he spreads the news into an vast open field by speaking into a tree hole.
The next scene finds Midas sitting on his red throne after his rise to autocratic power. He does not hesitate to take reign of his new authority; he restores the rumor-laden field to tranquility with by deploying a battalion of tanks on that fateful midsummer night. China has been jovially marching in a Bacchanalian parade ever since.
During the conclusion of the film Midas could cleanse neither the gold nor blood off his hands, even after washing himself the river Pactolus. Tormented by the golden touch, the starving Midas drank his own blood and ended his life.
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