08 March 2010

Once upon a time, a little man

Russian animation seems all too often overlooked, despite the fact that it is (among) the very best and that it typically tops any list of ranks. Norstein's films take the first and the second place on any list.
Why, despite its wide-spread critical acclaim (and the astonishing number of animation projects), do we see so little of it?
I really don’t know. I am very interested to hear your thoughts.
You should not regard my selection as very representative. It is but a small peek into a much more diverse, astonishing and colourful world of images than I could ever possibly depict in mere two weeks.
My selection followed literature, tales, poetry and songs. The very best animation in Russia is almost invariably based on one of these. I selected some of animated features that are based on Western literature (like Vinnie Puh or 221b Baker Street). Many acclaimed poems for children have been turned into animations (like Uspensky's Sidorov Vova). The same goes for epic songs (like the ancient Slavic ballad When The Sand Will Rise).
And the folk tales from the many peoples living in Russia have been turned into animations (like The Raven Deceiver from Kamchatka, the KuygoroΕΎ from Mordavia or Maslenica from Armenia).
While Ivan The Terrible is not based on any particular folk tale, it is certainly about a hero that is featured in many Russian folk tales. It is of course not an animated film, yet it has the same once upon a time lore. And, finally, The Story of a Crime features the only hero that could be a hero in communism: the little man.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting question. If pressed, I'd search for the answer somewhere on the line of it's melancholic, heavy and takes a long time to unreel. As any truly good thing, it hurts a bit and demands a lot - to give something, it wants something back. And most of all, like Slavic soul, it despises any compromises in being honest. So, what some of us adore (all of the above), the majority takes as redundant drama or unneeded complications - of life or aesthetics, same deal. To me, this is a great thing, because I like cinemas empty and quiet.

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