The Cowboy's Flute 牧笛
Writer: Te Wei
The story is about a relationship between a young cow herding boy with an extraordinary flute playing ability. He is accompanied by his faithful water buffalo, and falls asleep in a tree. The first month of summer morning, in the south field, a naive lively shepherd boy rides the water buffalo to browse. The cow has suddenly been missing, originally the cow is drown on the waterfalls, which ignores the shepherd boy's call for back. Hearing the sound which is sent out by the windy bamboo, he has the comprehension, then truncates the bamboo into a flute, plays the melodious delightful music. By the attraction of the whistle sound, the water buffalo is back to the shepherd boy side. The shepherd boy riding the cow back is treading the twilight boundary ridge between fields, easily returns.
The film did not contain any dialogues allowing it to be watched by any culture. The animation is essentially Chinese painting in motion, with a heavy emphasis on the flute melody.
Using the images that abound in traditional landscape painting and focusing their narrative upon the delicate relationship between man and nature in Cowboy's Flute, Te Wei and Qian Jajun created a wonderful genre of landscape painting-in-process. The film was an homage to Li Keran, the contemporary painter famous for his paintings of the countryside south of the Yangtze River. Enjoy it is like the movement of a landscape scroll that one slowly unravels. It's a deliberate and downright playful manipulation of the animation medium. Cowboy's Flute remains to this day one of the masterpieces of Chinese animation.
More than a decade later, the film would win an award at the Odense International Film Festival in 1979.