Deep Sea

Deep Sea

China (2023, dir. Tian Xiaopeng) – 90 mins
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Heed the call of the waves and dive headfirst into this innovative and visually resplendent Chinese animation.

Abandoned by her mother, Shenxiu is struggling with a deep sadness when she’s shipped off to sea with her emotionally absent father and his new wife and child. One day, during a wild storm, Shenxiu is washed overboard. She awakens in a wondrous underwater world, where, guided by a ‘hyjinx’ – a mystical, shape-shifting creature she knows from her mum’s songs – and accompanied by the motley crew of a subaquatic restaurant, Shenxiu embarks on an incredible odyssey to find the Eye of the Deep Sea … and, potentially, her missing mother too.

Director Tian Xiaopeng broke Chinese box office records with his previous animated hit, Monkey King: Hero Is Back, and looks set to do so again with Deep Sea, thanks in part to its truly stunning visuals – the result of an animation technique Tian calls “particle ink”. Inspired by the Tang Dynasty ink washes that popularised the freehand brushwork style known as xieyi, this uniquely 21st-century method of animation layers billions of specks of ‘digital dust’ per scene to render its 3D creations. The effect is softer and more fluid than the hyper-realism favoured by 3D filmmakers such as James Cameron, resulting in vibrant, dreamlike visuals that blur and flow together in a kaleidoscope of colours and motion.

“An absolutely ravishing Chinese anime that needs to be seen on the big screen … Offers a spectacular visual treat for younger viewers and a deeper more meaningful experience for mature audiences.” – Filmuforia

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Language: Mandarin
Genre: Animation
Classroom discussion points: Family (both born into and found), coming of age, dealing with sadness, mental health, friendship, facing adversity, adjusting to new life
Age suitability advice: Infrequent mild coarse language, mild cartoon violence
MIFF recommends this film as suitable for ages 7+