Category ArchiveNorshtein

Animation &Art Art &Norshtein 17 Feb 2010 09:20 am

Norshtein & The Overcoat

- I was pretty proud of the New York animation community. There was a full turnout for the Yurij Norshtein show on Monday night. All of the key people one hoped would show up, did show up. I was surprised at the many familiar faces in attendance: Amid Amidi, Richard O’Connor, John Dilworth, John Canemaker, Emily Hubley, the Rauch brothers, the Kraus brothers, Biljana Labovic, Jeremiah Dickey, Howard Beckerman, Matt Clinton, David Levy . . . the list goes on.
Norshtein and Reeves Lehman, dean of animation at SVA
And it was appropriate for him to
have a good turnout. Norshtein is the height of “Art” in animation, and he’s a beacon for us all. If ever one gave everything to the creation and forward movement of the artform, this guy is it. He’s been working on his film adaptation of Gogol’s The Overcoat for the past 25 years or so. He screened roughly 13 minutes of the film broken into two parts. Both were screened in silent B&W.

The first part was the opening 10 mins of the film. Throngs of shoppers and passersby in the snow on a crowded Moscow street. All I could think of was the enormous number of cutout parts for all these people, just to assemble one image of the film. Yet they were animated and the sequence was long. One guy did all the construction of those characters, all the animation, all the movement. How in hell did he keep each of those many people and parts of people in his head so that he knew how they moved? No computer assistance to help, only his brain. And to top it off the camera, with all those planes, is moving as well. It’s an extraordinary feat.

Then the lead character enters and we see what he sees – not the crowds but the writing in his head. He’s a lowly scrivener, a copyist; someone who spends his day copying documents. Obviously, he can’t remove the work and the words from his mind, though the world he walks in is filled with distraction.

From these street scenes he goes home to an extended sequence of warming himself up and eating a small bowl of soup. The character motion and development is all open to us in this incredible scene wherein we enter the tiny physical, introverted world of this man.

The final three minutes show him realizing how worn his overcoat has become. Threadbare doesn’t begin to describe it as his fingers easily poke through the fabric again, and again. When he puts the coat over his head, fibers end up in his mouth.

A long, very long display of character. All B&W and silent. It’s going to be another masterpiece from this brilliant artist. All done by hand by him on a complex and large camera set up. One person controlling all the pieces.

The Heron and the Crane and Hedgehog in the Fog were screened from the Jove dvd. Most of the evening was Norshtein answering questions. (There was a bit of an onstage struggle between two interpreters, during the opening segments, with the stronger interpreter doing duty for most of the event.) He took the dumbest of questions and turned them into answers we always wanted to hear. A question from a young girl about what his favorite animated films turned into a list of expected films that I was not surprised to hear: Night on Bald Mountain Disney, Crac Back, There Once Was a Dog Nazarov, and he admitted that it’s a list that’s constantly changing. He also spoke of recently watching a print of Bambi frame-by-frame on an editing machine. He said it was a film that has enormous beauty in every frame, in it’s backgrounds and layout, as well as in its whole as a film.

During his answering questions he spoke articulately to us about everything from animation to great painters to great authors. I have to say that I can’t remember any other ASIFA meeting where the “young” Michelangelo or Velazquez were discussed, nevermind Chekhov and Proust. In the past week, I’ve attended a number of Oscar parties – one for James Cameron, one for Quentin Tarantino, one for Sandra Bullock. If there’s a celebrity in New York, I’ve had a chance to meet them. I’d trade them all for that evening with Norshtein at that little SVA theater.

After the screening, they were selling photo prints in the lobby, signed by Norshtein. I bought two hoping in some small way to support him on this trip. They also serve as souvenir reminders to me that I have to be more of an artist in my own work.

Two preproduction images for The Overcoat

(As always, click any image you’d like to enlarge.)

You can read more details by Dayna Gonzalez about the event at the ASIFAEast newsletter.

And Richard O’Connor offers a collection of notes and quotes from the evening to his blog for Asterisk Animation.

Daily post &Norshtein 03 Feb 2010 09:02 am

Dumbing down Oscar/Norshtein visit

- I thought I’d comment on the Oscar nominations.

The list of 10 Best Picture nominees creates some pathetic choices. The Blindside and District Nine should not be nominated for the Best Picture. It diminishes the category and demeans the other nominees. I’m sure Up got in there because of the increase to 10 nominees, but I’d gladly sacrifice that to give a little dignity to the award. The Messenger was better than either of those two films (and better than Avatar as well) yet it was left out in the cold.

They did this once before, in 1939, when every one of those 10 nominees deserved to be there. This year it was tough just picking 5 films to be nominated.

I’m glad Tomm Moore’s The Secret of the Kells got nominated, though I don’t think it was particularly good. However, it would have been a total sham if Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs had been honored. My preference would have been for Ponyo, which may have been the best animated feature of last year’s crop.

(By the way, there’s another chance to see the Secret of the Kells in NY. Tomm Moore will be in attendance for a Q&A. It’s playing Sat Feb 27 at the CANTOR FILM CENTER – 36 East 8th Street – at 1pm. Go here for tickets in advance. )

It’s also sad that Runaway wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Short. It’s better than most of those nominated, even though I’m not a fan of any of the shorts in the running. There were a bad crop of films shown this year, and I would have had a hard time if I had to select any of them.

I have to say, watching Logorama, which ended with a devastating earthquake, so soon after the Haitian disaster was difficult. This wasn’t the fault of the filmmakers, just the circumstances that were happening in the real world. It took something away from the film, for me.


Yurij Norshtein is visiting the two coasts.

He’ll be in San Franciso this Sunday, Feb. 7h, showing his films and talking at the Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA). Tickets are $25. The event will be a fundraiser to support Yuri Norshtein’s animation studio in Moscow.

He’ll be in Olympia, Washington on Wednesday, February 10th at the Evergreen State College (Communications Building, Recital Hall in Olympia Washington.) Ticket prices are $10 regular admission, $8 seniors, $5 students.

He’ll be in LA this Friday at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (the Norris Cinema Theatre/Frank Sinatra Hall.) The admission is free and begins at 7:00pm. Friday, February 5th, 2010. Igor Kovalyev (Milch, The Rugrats, Duckman) will lead the conversation with him.

And, finally, he’ll be in New York on Monday, February 15 at the School of Visual Arts Theater (333 W. 23rd Street, between 8th/9th Ave.) This event is free to ASIFA East members (and anyone else, too.) Interesting enough, none of those who put together the NY edition of this show have any idea whether Norshtein will be screening films or just doing a Q&A. It’s up to him (and I’m pretty confident his films WILL be screened – since he doesn’t speak English, making a lengthy talk impossible.)

This is one of the great world leaders of animation, people. ATTEND ATTEND ATTEND and Stop being so lazy.

Books &Norshtein 26 Dec 2009 08:15 am

Norshtein comics – 6

- This is the final chapter of the book I’ve been posting these last five weeks. It is a drawn diary kept by Tanya Usvayskaya while she worked for Yuri Norshtein‘s studio. The close-knit and personal relationship of all the members of the studio comes through, and we get to share some intimate moments with the animation master, Yurij Norshtein.

Richard O’connor, whose Asterisk Productions does wonderful animation of their own, gave the book to me as a gift, and I’m pleased to share it with you.

Note that the translation by the Japanese publisher isn’t always the clearest, yet something of the original Russian seems to come through. I’m transcribing the book without changing anything.

The first five parts of the book can be found here:
Norshtein Comics – 1
Norshtein Comics – 2
Norshtein Comics – 3
Norshtein Comics – 4
Norshtein Comics – 5

Here we continue with a chapter on “The Artist”:


“I am the leader of the art!”
Yurij Borisovich, with his wife, is dancing Flamenco.
“Yes,” agreed Francheska looking at him affectionately.

“Please tie me on the chair!”
For the film, “The Overcoat,” it is necessary to shoot a scene
where Arkaky is tied to a chair by his colleagues.
So he says, and sketches himself as Arkaky in front of a large mirror.

“It is better to tie a fool! Ha-ha-ha!”
While sketching
Norshtein slipped off the chair
and burst into a roar of laughter.

“I never realized that
woman’s breasts wave like waves,
and in it – there is a small ship!”
Norshtein, as with all artists,
loves to admire ladies forms.

Yurij searches for
wonderful expression on the TV.

He did not find “wonderful expression” and was offended.
He says: “What is the value of television?”

“It is outrageous! You understand nothing!”
Borisch in trousers of kimono (jinbei)
and in socks (not at all fearful)
scolds studio members.

“Absent heroes.”
Opening of exhibition of laureates of “Triumph” award
Yarbusova and Norshtein in Paris in 1998.
They were so tired of hanging sketches by themselves
that they were no more interested in the opening itself.

“What we call poetry is reality for children.”
Yurij told Nataliya Nikolaevna Abramova (his permanent heroic editor)
“Animation film is not a criterion. In art
it does not occupy any positions. I know about it.
Natasha, I am always thinking about it.”

“Animation – it is a continent without a support!”
Torture of Creation – Norshtein shouted to Natasha Abramova on the phone.
Any average entertainment films are much more meaningful than
what I currently am engaged with.
“I only wish that the bed will not be broken,” Tanya muttered.

In spite of all this
Norshtein continues working in animation films.

Drawing with a model – Norshtein looks into the eye piece of movie camera.

Norshtein, himself, wrote a short piece in the back of his student’s book:

    About Tanya

    Tatiana Usvayskaya is very unique artist. She has quite rear combination of very keen sense for fun and skill of sharp drawing at the same time. Her visual memory serves her fantastically!

    For the very first time I was surprised by her talent seeing her drawing where I was portrayed as a giant with running line of cheering like birds students behind me. Figures on the drawing were not bigger than a finger’s nail, but all that 15 or 20 characters were with incredible resemblance. I can’t understand how she could catch the resemblance in such a miniature size! Any scene from everyday life is transfered by her fantasy.

    Her beloved dog with nickname Pirat is a kind of superhero on her drawings. He is a gentleman, a doctor, a cook, her gallant cavalier and her taxi-driver.

    Gratefully to her kindness the dog became one of the heros on introduction and ending of TV programme ‘Good night, children!’

    A short movie can be done by any of her drawings. She doesn’t keep her drawings preciously. She scatters them everywhere, many of them are lost forever. Whenever I ask about some of her drawings, she answers: ‘I think, I have lost it… I’ll draw a new one!’

    She has a Mozart’s scale talent, that’s why so easy she can part with things done already and not be saddened by lost one. For Mozart was quite easier to compose a new piece than to look for something lost already.

    Tanya never corrects her drawings. If she has dislike of something, she redraws it again. She doesn’t think much of her talent, considering that to draw is very simple thing.

    I hope that publishing of this book with her drawings will help her to understand that to raise a people’s laugh over your drawings is quite tough job.

    Yuri Norshtein

Articles on Animation &Books &Illustration &Norshtein 18 Dec 2009 09:28 am

Norshtein Comics – 5

- We’re starting to wind down on this delightful book. It’s Tanya Usvayskaya‘s drawn diary while she worked for Yuri Norshtein‘s studio. This book caricartures the small family within the studio and Norshtein’s world during that period.

Richard O’connor, whose Asterisk Productions does wonderful animation of their own, gave the book to me as a gift, and I’m pleased to share it with you.

Note that the translation by the Japanese publisher isn’t always the best, but it does capture the gist of the original Russian. I’m transcribing the book without alterations.

The first four parts of the book can be found here:
Norshtein Comics – 1
Norshtein Comics – 2
Norshtein Comics – 3
Norshtein Comics – 4

Here we continue with a chapter on “Pirat,” the studio’s dog:

Chapter 5: My Friend, Pirat!

“Run! Pirat let’s go bathing!”
Spring! On trees are first leaves.
Tanya says “Let’s go to the class. It is Nazarov today!
Norshtein is hurried to a lake,
while Tanya is not.

“I wish he would give it to me.”
Norshtein is thoughtfully breakfasting dry “Hercules.”

“It’s wonderful!”
Nazarov brought cheese that smelled badly as a gift for Norshtein.
Everyone in the studio ran away to fetch gas masks.
So only Pirat shared the joy with Norshtein.
The director mumbled it
smacked it and muttered with opening his eyes.

“Goodbye, flea!”
Pirat washes himself
with shampoo against fleas.

“Yes, eh, I . . . have decided to cut my hair myself.”
Norshtein was observed in front of a mirror in a strange pose.
“Yuri Borisch, what is the matter with you?”

“Valya, I know you prefer a rabbit.”
Pirat, not Tanya, writes a report about the studio.
[Norshtein and Valya Olishvang are taking the rest from shooting the film.
Good night, children. They are swimming on the lake in the winter.]

“It is OK !”
Norshtein dislocated his leg and stretched the leg
in the corridor under the direction of Pirat all day.

“Good night, children !”
Norshtein says that at some moment,
characters start to live by themselves.

Books &Comic Art &Norshtein 12 Dec 2009 08:50 am

Norshtein Comics – 4

- Back to the book. Here’s the next chapter in Tanya Usvayskaya‘s wonderful book. She kept a drawn diary while working for Yuri Norshtein at his studio. This book compiles the drawings of the small family within the studio and Norshtein’s environs during that period.

A copy of this book was a gift from Richard O’connor, whose Asterisk Productions does wonderful animation of their own. What a treasure!

Note that the translation by the Japanese publisher isn’t always the best, but it does capture the gist of the original Russian. I’m transcribing the book without alterations.

The first three parts of the book can be found here:
Norshtein Comics – 1
Norshtein Comics – 2
Norshtein Comics – 3

This chapter, Norshtein and Tanya, is one of the shortest.

“Norstein and Tanya”
“Don’t Hesitate to use them.”
Norshtein, leaving to give lectures, gave us a
certain amount of money for the management of the studio.
“Pirat, please buy one covered with chocolate.”
While someone is “living luxuriously” on overseas master classes,
Tanya and Pirat “economized” on every kopeck.
“Now – you calculate quickly!
20 watermelon stones plus 3 bits? and . . .”
Because we bookkeepers failed to report to the master,
he recommended to us that we learn mathematics.
“Have this hat for just a moment.”
Work in the animation film studio provides us all
with a variety of returns.
“Ladies, please buy my flowers.”
As a result of squandering by Tanya and Pirat,
Yuri has become a flower seller on the street.
“Please pay for potatoes, sour cream and sugar!”
Tanya screams in front of a mountain of food to pay.
“Well, we all are ready to go to sleep.”
In the studio, taking of scene for “Good Night, Children!”
went all night. Tanya, Natasha and Pirat left this note.


Here’s the video of the title scene mentioned in the last cartoon, “Good Night, Children!”. Thanks to Niffiwan for adding it to YouTube.

Books &Norshtein 04 Dec 2009 08:39 am

Norshtein Comics – 3

- It’s Friday, so it’s time to read the next chapter in the delightful book by Tanya Usvayskaya. She recorded her stay at Yuri Norshtein’s studio by caricaturing her boss and his life during that period. The simple drawings say a lot.

This book was gifted me by Richard O’connor, whose Asterisk Productions does some charming animation of their own. I am enormously grateful for that surprise package of a book.

Note that the translation, sometimes poorly worded, is copied verbatim. I’m just trying to transcribe the book without any alterations.

The first two parts of the book can be found here:
Norshtein Comics – 1
Norshtein Comics – 2

This chapter concerns itself with biographical notes of the master’s life.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

Red haired with freckles and in stockings – boy grew up cheerful.
Made mama Bassya and papa Boris happy and almost he never
quarrelled with his brother – violinist Garik.

As a lad, he was soon captured by one passion – just painting!
Drew, torn to pieces and thrown out.

“Encounter with Francheska”
In the children’s art school.
youth Yuri N. made friends with youth Edik N.
And in junior class a girl with thick braids
named Francheska was learning . . .

It turned out that no institutes accept Norshtein.
Perhaps, destinyspared him for animation films.

“Lads! This guy is great!
He made boxes for the whole country!”
“Oh, yes.”

Young artist didn’t waste his talent!
in the furniture complex
he knocked out boxes required everywhere
by hammering nails in with one stroke!

And all the remaining time
he was drawing pictures
until he happened to meet with . . .

Norshtein met with a famous director, Roman Kachanov,
who later took (made) animation film “Mitten”,
“Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka” and many others,
where Norshtein was one of the animators.

“On the road to becoming an animator.”

(Without believing his own luck . . .)
With the blessing of Kachanov, Norshtein successfully passed
an examination and entered the artists, animator’s class!

“Why should I take it off
when I will wear it again tomorrow?”

First work on audio replica of character – “Nezanaika”.
He was too busy with the work to take off the hat at night.

Books &Norshtein 19 Nov 2009 08:47 am

Norstein Comics

- A week or so ago, there was a gentle knock on my door. It was a messenger coming from Richard O’Connor, one of the proprietors of Asterisk Animation. He had sent me a gift of a little treasure book; one printed in Japan which contained dozens of cartoon caricatures of Yurij Norshtein and his staff. The cartons are done by Tanya Usvayskaya. Let me post her own introduction. I’ll follow that with two of the chapters from the book. The text is a bit hard to follow, so I’ll retype it below each cartoon to make it more legible.

    Honourable friends!


    My name is Tanya Usvayskaya. I’m working and studying at the Studio of Yuri Borisovich Norshtein – one of the most eminent animation directors. In this book you can see my small sketches ‘from nature’ depicting our studio life and different reactions to our events.
    You can meet all members of our small team, as same as our friends, guests and close relatives.

    All these small memos have been drawn with the intention to brighten and cheer up each of us, but in the book they’ll help you to imagine that ‘concentrated solution’ where the cristals of our collective creative work are growing up.

    Wishing a lot of joy to you I recall the words of little Yanochka to her grandfather Yuri Borisovich: ‘Grandad, I want so much everyone to be delighted’

    Sincerely Yours, Tanya Usvayskaya

“Gather around, all of you!”
Members of the studio prepare for
photography. Photgrapher id Jukovski.




Norshtein is working and rinsing a bad tooth.
Zoia Trofimova, his student, is preparing her specialty, chicken broth. Zoia Trofimova is director of “PIPSQUEAK PRINCE.”

“What is so funny?”
It happened on her first day in the studio for Natasha Baskakova.
It was very hot and Norshtein came to the studio with his shirt
tucked into his knee trousers.

We have pressed the director’s shirt,
and slipped this paper into his pocket.
“The customer is King!”

5a – His words while talking with Petrushevskaya, a writer on the phone.
In Russian “snimati” stands for either “shooting film” or “taking off clothes.”
Petrushevskaya wrote the scenario of “The Tale of
Tales” and “The Overcoat” together with Norshtein.

5b – “Every time I put it on or take off.
I do not know what I am taking off.”

Director’s weekdays.
Early in the afternoon. He is meditating. It is a director’s job.

A giant and a banana.
Norstein, a person with a large body frame,
is eating a small banana.

8 9
8 – “Er, uhm, you know . . .”
Norstein said to us apologetically, scratching his head.
It is a signal he sends when he wants to have a cup of tea.

9 – “Like a sucking pig.”
Norshtein is talking on the telepone and scratching his nose.
Then he put his fingers into his nostrils.

“Let’s dance, learn to tap, with your hands
and legs, and One, Two, Three.”
Sending fax to NATASHA GUTMAN in Spain.
“You are a true native of Barcelona!”

“I love Russian Sugar!”
The director shot a CM for “Russian Sugar”.
He himself drinks crunching cube sugar.

“Today is May 9th, Victory Day.”
During the World War II 27 million Soviet people were killed.
“A old soldier goes to the War” is a film about a fighter pilot in the war.
The pilot annihilated Fascism, and thanks to the Peace;
we will annihilate Blinui baked by Katya Sokolova, a student of Noshtein.

Blinui is made from milk, eggs and flour and baked with oil.
The traditional dish which sandwiches cavier, etc.

“Say cheese!”
Meeting with a director, Alexander Sokurov, and a translator, Hiroku-san.
The photographer is Mr. Kosei Miya.

“Where have you been?”
An essayist, Mr Kosei Miya, appeared suddenly.
Norshtein wrote an introduction for a photo album
published in Italy by Mr. Kosei Miya, a bohemian.

In FIFA World Cup 2002 Japan beat Russia one – nil.
Norshtein called Hiroko-san and sent this fax.

“See you again, my friend.”
Those seeing them off are Pirat (the dog),
Tanya, Norshtein, Francheska and Marfa.

“A Happpy Birthday!”
14th November 1999. A fax to Natasha Gutman.







Yurij Borisovich said something offensive to Tanya and smiled with extreme satisfaction while Tanya took vengeance upon him by drawing this picture.
No one remembers what it was about,
and this picture remains.

Yuri Borisovich went into a pond in November. those on the shore are
Pirat, Tanya, and Natasha Baskakova who is accusing him severely.
Then he says:
“Nonsense! Kolika would have praised this.”
(Kolika is Natasha’s husband.)

20-1 Norshtein filled his mouth with a handful of raisins.
20-2 He chewed them toroughly and thoughtfully.
20-3 . . . I – i – i
20-4 Director sneezed. Everybody laughed

21 We all sat and were drinking tea.
Norshtein covered his nose with a handkerchief and said,
“Why? Simply, raisins are sweet.”

“Yes, it is my grandchild!”
Yuri Borisovich came to the studio in the morning and said,
“Imagine, I have just met my Granddaughter, Yanochika, in the subway!”

What a gem of a present. Thank you, Richard.

Frame Grabs &Norshtein 22 Dec 2008 09:23 am

Norstein’s Kerzhenets

- As any long-time reader of this blog might guess, my favorite living animator is Yurij Norstein. To me, his Tale of Tales reigns far and above other animated films. He first made a splash in Russia on the film, The Battle of Kurzhenets (1971), when he assisted legendary animation director, Ivan Ivanov-Vano. His work on that film was so strong that Ivanov-Vano shared a co-direction credit with the young animator. Other films such as the Hedgehog in the Fog (1975) and The Heron and the Crane (1974) attest to his brilliance.

Here’s Claire Kitson‘s comments from her brilliant book Yurij Norstein and Tale of Tales: An Animator’s Journey:

    Battle by the Kerzhenets (Secha pri Kerzhentse, 1971), this one co-directed with Ivanov-Vano, was a far more significant piece of work, and of more importance in Norstein’s development. In this film, Russian icons, mini atures and frescoes of the 14th to 16th centuries were animated to Rirnsky-Korsakov’s Legend of the Invisible City ofKitezh (Skazaniye o nevidimomgtA Kitezhe i deve Fevronii). Norstein was responsible for all technical aspects, Tyurin was again in the group, as co-art director, and Yarbusova also workeJ in the design department – her first project together with her husband. Though the design was based on Byzantine art, Norstein again introduced elements from Russia’s post-revolutionary flowering. This time it is Ma-levich, whose painting Red Cavalry is borrowed in the scene where the Tatar cavalry storms across the steppes to meet the Russian defenders.

    Norstein: “That film was very important to me. It gave me a sense of the resonance, the musicality of forms, the musicality of action. This is nothing to do with the superficial musical rhythm, but a feeling for I internal structure.”

    The film went on to win the Grand Prix at the Zagreb Animation Festival.

I’ve chosed to pull some frame grabs from the The Battle of Kurzhenets

(Click any image to enlarge.)

Articles on Animation &Norshtein 04 Oct 2007 07:53 am


- I started the day watching an interview with Yurij Norstein. It was a very inspirational viewing for me. (As a matter of fact, this site, Animatsaya In English, is a must read for anyone interested in Russian animation – and you should be. There’s just so much to read/view on it.) But back to the interview.

Norstein had just acted as a judge on the 12th Open Russian Festival of Animated Film back in March of 2007. (I assume this interview has been out there for some time.)

Some few parts of the interview really caught my attention. Here he’s asked about current films in production and their quality:

    Norstein: The very essence of animation that had been laid down in the 1950s is missing from today’s feature film. So, we cannot see too many films today of true quality.

    Q: What is the essence of animation which is gone? Is it possible to formulate in words that which has gone?

    N: Empathy is gone, sincerity is gone… hardship is gone. For me this is very important. Psychology is gone. The school of gesture is gone; classic gesture. In their place is discreteness, which is very quickly and easily understood, and just as quickly and easily forgotten.

That’s the essence of the problem. Isn’t it?

Then he’s asked to comment on Petrov‘s most recent film, My Love, and I think he offers an excellent answer.

    Q: … let’s begin with Petrov’s film ["My Love"]. Unfortunately the name “Petrov”, I think, the rest of the world probably knows better than we do?

    N: No, he’s also known over here, of course.
    … he received an Oscar for the film “The Old Man and the Sea”. Which incidentally was made in Canada, not here.

    Q: There’s an unusual technique, as I understand.

    N: The technique is something. He has an unusual technique – I can’t say that he invented it, animating with paint on glass, I think it was invented by Caroline Leaf. She made the first film, in 1978. It was called “The Street” [watch the film], and it was a wonderful film in its time. Some story by a Jewish writer [Mordecai Richler], I don’t remember now, I don’t know… this was an event then. Sasha was certainly aware of this film. He wonderfully… I think that in animated filmmaking today few draw like him, and maybe nobody does. He’s a complete virtuoso in this respect. And his first film “The Cow” [see my earlier post about Petrov] was an immediate phenomenon. It was a diploma work and a full-fledged film at the same time, and incidentally was nominated for an Oscar. What’s surprising is that __________Petrov model sheet for My Love.
    it DIDN’T win. Now that was one film which
    should have won, because it was in all respects a NEW film. Of a new psychology. Well, it’s sufficient to say that it was an adaptation of Platonov, you see? This already speaks of the quality of the animation. The film which he has just made – it received the Grand Prix, and I think won another two categories… but… I should really speak with Sasha about it, because the virtuosity is the same. The same glamour. But I think there are things in cinema more important than certain moments, than a simple showcase of mastery…

    Q: So basically… you wished for depth?

    N: I wished for depth. I wished for… economy. I wished for, on some occasions, humility, when virtuosity gives way to something more deep, psychologically more important.

The interview also talks extensively about Norstein’s film in progress, The Overcoat.

Apparently, this film is in full production again and a half hour should be completed this year. (The total running time will be about 65 mins.) He expects to release that 30 mins. when they’re complete.

To watch or read the full interview go here.

_________Norstein’s The Overcoat

Daily post &Norshtein 03 Sep 2007 09:01 am

An Artist

– Since I presented some photos of Yurij Norstein yesterday, I thought today I’d call attention to several pieces about him on line.

His short film adapted from a haiku by the Japanese poet Bashō is on YouTube. This was a project done for an compilation animation feature. Go here to view it if you haven’t. Actually, you should see it again if you have seen it.

In the withering gusts,
a wanderer …
How much like Chikusai I have become!

Then take some time to read the excellent interview with Norstein about this film.

Follow this by watching a short commercial Norstein directed/animated.

Of course, if you really want to do justice to this great artist, you should view (not on YouTube but on DVD) Tale of Tales. And watch it a couple of times to really get the brilliance. This DVD also includes all of his other films (which are equally brilliant.)

The Norstein DVD also includes a 15 minute documentary about his work and his work methods. This has been placed on YouTube in two parts. It includes several shots of him working on his multiplane camera set-up.
Here’s part 1
and part 2

There’s also a wonderful book by Clare Kitson, Yuri Norstein And Tale of Tales: An Animator’s Journey. It’s an inspired and inspirational book. Especially if you know the film.

I highly recommend it.




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