Fri, 22 Aug 2003

'Disney Channel' brings Asian legends to life

Tantri Yuliandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

In the beginning there were nine suns scorching the Earth. The Moon felt sorry for the people of Earth and helped them trick the father Sun into eating the other suns.

This is the story of Why the Sun Chases the Moon, based on Indonesian folklore for the Disney Channel series Legends of the Ring of Fire.

Legends is a series of animated short stories locally produced by the Disney Channel in Asia. It retells stories from Asian folklore that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Beginning with Why the Sun Chases the Moon, Disney Channel Asia will showcase six folktales from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Korea and the Philippines.

"Given the rich diversity of cultures and folktales in Asia, each episode is individual but remains true to the Disney tradition of quality storytelling and family entertainment," Ashok Miranda, executive producer of the South East Asia/Korea regions of Walt Disney Television International, said.

While legends may have a slight basis in truth, myths are ancient stories containing religious or magical ideas explaining natural or historical events.

Scientific explanations may have replaced many of these beliefs, but at one time these were the only explanations available for what was going on in the world.

And these tales delighted children for ages, never growing stale with the constant telling and retelling.

UTV Toons, a division of the Mumbai-based UTV Software Communications, was selected to work with Disney Channel Asia on the animation for the series.

The animation used in Legends was created using 2D cel animation and the latest computer graphics technology.

Drawing from Asian themes and designs, Disney says the Legends look exhibits an epic-like quality that effectively communicates the stories while illustrating their mythical origins.

Each of the five-minute episodes also has its own unique score and sound design, created by Schtung Music Singapore, drawing upon musical influences and styles from the regions where the stories are set.

A new episode will be introduced every two weeks, beginning with Why the Sun Chases the Moon (Indonesia), which premiered on Aug. 16, followed by The Cengal Tree (Malaysia), How the Moon Came to Be (Thailand), How Singapore Got Its Name (Singapore), The Magic Snail (Korea) and How the Durian Came to Be (the Philippines).

Managing director of the South East Asia/Korea division of Walt Disney Television International, Raymund Miranda, said that the series would also premiere on other international Disney stations.

Legends of the Ring of Fire will air every Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on the Disney Channel.

Synopses of the other episodes of Legends of the Ring of Fire:

- The Cengal Tree, a tale from Malaysia

Premiere date: Saturday, Aug. 30

Long, long ago, it rained non-stop such that the earth was flooded. The white ants had to flee from their homes to escape the floodwaters. They appealed to the trees to seek shelter in their branches, but were refused as the trees were afraid that the white ants would eat them later. Finally, they approached the big Cengal tree as their last hope, and the Cengal tree, who had a soft heart, agreed and struck a bargain with the white ants which lasts till this day.

- How the Moon Came to be, a tale from Thailand

Premiere date: Saturday, Sept. 13

Long, long ago, there was a Sun King who ruled the heavens, but there was no moon in the sky at night. One day, the Sun King say the beautiful daughter of the King of Siam and fell in love with her. He refused to go back to his home in the sky as he wanted to stay by her side constantly, and night never fell on earth again. The stars, who were forced to hide in the clouds, decided on a plan to bring back the nights and in doing so created the moon that we see in our skies to this day.

- How Singapore Got Its Name, a tale from Singapore

Premiere date: Saturday, Sept. 27

Long, long ago there was a young adventurous king who loved to hunt. One day when he was in the jungle hunting for stags, he came a cross a beautiful island. Eager to explore it, he set sail immediately and encountered the fury of the Sea-King. Upon landing safely on the island, a majestic lion-like creature appeared from the jungle and gave the king the inspiration to name the island Singapore, which it is still known as to this day.

- The Magic Snail, a tale from Korea

Premiere date: Saturday, Oct. 11

There once was a young, hardworking farmer who longed for a wife, and made a wish while working in his fields. He heard a reply come from a snail and took the snail home out of curiosity. The snail transformed into a beautiful lady, whom the farmer fell in love with and they were married. One day by chance, the king saw the beautiful snail-lady and wanted her for himself, so he challenged the farmer to a test. But with the help of his beautiful wife and the Dragon King, the farmer was able to overcome all obstacles and win back his wife.

- How the Durian Came to Be, a tale from the Philippines

Premiere date: Saturday, Oct. 25

Long, long ago, a powerful king ruled the Kingdom of the Philippines, but he was sad as he had a beautiful young wife who did not love him. He decided to seek help from a wise hermit who told him how to win his wife's heart by planting a special tree. He succeeded with the help of the nymph of the air and held a celebration for the entire kingdom, but he forgot to invite the wise hermit. In a rage, the hermit cursed the tree and created the fruit we know as durian to this day.