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Review: ‘Big Fish & Begonia’ is a Distinctive Animated Tale of Life, Death, and Love

In 2004, directors Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang created a Flash animation for an online contest. From there they expanded it into a feature length film steeped in Chinese supernatural legend. And despite some funding snags over its twelve-year production schedule, Big Fish & Begonia turned its approximately five million-dollar budget (in today’s Us dollars) into just shy of one hundred million at the Chinese box office. Now it makes its way to America two years later for a limited release, another stellar example of the nation’s growing animation industry. With its beautiful aesthetic and distinctive tale of life, death, and love, the film should find a welcome audience.

The story takes place in a magical world that exists beneath the human world in an alternate, spiritual reality. Its inhabitants are mostly humanoid in appearance, their supernatural powers attuned to the natural forces of the world. Known as “Others,

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