The adventures of Mulan, the legend of the White Snake, and the romance of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai continue to fascinate both Eastern and Western audiences all over the world. As the embodiment of wisdom, virtue, and pursuit of love of the Chinese people, these tales have been performed on the stage, adapted for the big screen, and rewritten as dramas for television. They have inspired theme parks and postage stamps, violin concertos, and western-style operas. In their modern transformations these traditional tales have been hailed as the quintessence of Chinese culture and as instruments for cultural renewal.
Continuing its series of artistic reincarnations, The Butterfly Lovers: The Legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, as central to the Chinese culture as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is to the Western culture, comes alive yet again in a lovely short film by TED-Ed with the help of Lijun Zhang and Amir Houshang Moein.
Complement this video with the book The Butterfly Lovers which contains four versions of the tale and offers a historical perspective on its development and place in the Chinese popular literature and culture. In addition, Wilt L. Idema provides essential contextual information and discusses how the story of the Butterfly Lovers fits into modern Chinese concepts of gender roles and sexual freedom.