A small piglet called McDull has become the best loved cartoon figure in Hong Kong. The creation of Hong Kong animators Brian Tse and Alice Mak, the second film featuring the pink piglet with a brown eye hit screens in Hong Kong cinemas last week and is currently in 3rd place in terms of takings at the box office. The first McDull film, My Life as McDull, was released at the end of 2001 and went on to win the Grand Prize at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France last year.
The new film features the voices of Hong Kong stars actors Andy Lau, Anthony Wong, and actress Sandra Ng. In the film, McDull"s hometown is being razed to make way for a new housing development. In the hope of some security in the future, McDull's mother starts buying up insurance policies, U.S. dollars, gold, toilet paper and even a graveyard for herself. The film also introduces McDull"s father, who long ago abandoned all interest in what lies ahead and convinced he is the 'Pineapple Bun Prince', McDull's father is lost to reality.
In the first film, My Life as Mcdull, the piglet McDull grows up in a single-parent family and leads an ordinary life with his mother and they both dream of a stroke of good luck which will bring them better lives. He dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal and visiting the Maldives, but his family can barely afford a trip to one of Hong Kong's hilltops.
Though McDull is little different to other kids, his mother has high hopes for him. She writes to the president of the international Olympic committee, urging the IOC to introduce a new sport in which McDull excels - bun-snatching. It's a traditional event that takes place every year in Hong Kong's Cheung Chau island. After making a huge pyramid of buns, contestants compete to reach the top first and snatch the bun! But bad luck strikes when the practice is banned after the pile collapses and injures the competitors!
As McDull grows up, he faces hardships which Hong Kong people can readily identify with. His life is greatly influenced by the economic downturn and the threat of unemployment and his family has to struggle along with debt and their mortgage to survive the crisis. In short, Mcdull is a symbol of the ordinary people of Hong Kong. His experiences, pains and dreams are shared by many ordinary Hong Kong residents.
It's a significant film for Hong Kong's film industry, and marks the first major locally made animated feature. In a market where the box office is usually dominated by kong-fu and action films, McDull strikes a blow on behalf of the oridnary people of Hong Kong, showing that a low-budget animation can take on the big budget epics of Hollywood.
(CRI June 1, 2004)