Articles on Animation &Daily post 22 Apr 2009 07:37 am

Norstein’s Words

- Animatsaya in English is a site I visit frequently even though it doesn’t change that frequently. It’s a site that gives a good insiders view of Russian animation. Currently, I think they’re doing some of the best animation worldwide. Not too long ago, Niffiwan, the site’s host, offered a translation of a Russian article about the effect of the financial crisis on Russian animation. Naturally, the results were devastatingly bad.

However, toward the end of the piece, several prominent animators were asked their opinion, and I thought that Yurij Norstein offered some valuable words. Hence, I repost them here:

    It has always been difficult for an artist, but today is doubly difficult. Always difficult, because the artist, in general, is a person who finds it difficult to live with himself. Today is doubly hard, because the lack of money and the constant attention to the question of “how to get money” kills art by half.

    But it is also obvious that it is very difficult without a community. If we lose each other, then we will all be worth one kopek, and it is unlikely that we are individually worth something and can do something. I, of course, am talking about my own experiences at “Soyuzmultfilm”. And although we did not have ideal relations, though we argued with each other, we were still a community, and our only desire, emotional and mental, was to make a film be as good as possible.

    The last thing we thought about was the market, what would sell … If you remember, say, the Renaissance, an artist back then sought primarily to make something. This is why the artist must be at the head of everything.

I suggest you visit the site and read the entire article. Things in your community may not be as bleak as you thought.


- Jeff Scher has one of his lively animation pieces in the NYTimes, in case you haven’t seen it recently. This is an ode to Spring. “Welcome Back.” It’s another excellent spot by Jeff, and I urge you to view it. We have to support the animation on newspaper sites. It’s the way of the future, and the newspapers should know it. The only way that can happen is for the pieces to get hits. Go there.


- Thad Komorowski has some positive words about a Fox & Crow cartoon, (they’re not easy to find) and Bob Jaques has an excellent post about Paramount animator, Tom Golden.

9 Responses to “Norstein’s Words”

  1. on 22 Apr 2009 at 8:23 am 1.Stephen Macquignon said …

    Jeff did a very nice job with his interpretation of spring

  2. on 22 Apr 2009 at 12:36 pm 2.Hans Perk said …

    Yurij Norstein has made some of the most beautiful animated pictures ever. He had the vision, the ability, and noone to tell him it was not commercially viable..

    I remember, when visiting Estonia in 1990 (a year after “The Wall came down”) for the Nordic Light festival, a local animation artist approaching me saying “your studio give me money, I make film.” When I asked him what kind of film, he said “I make film. You see when it is done.” After some back-and-forth it was very clear that he had never worked in a market economy. As a matter of fact, the Estonians had gotten money from Moscow and used it to make anti-Soviet films that were ok’ed by the Soviets as they did not get the double message, which was very clear to the Estonians. I thought that was hilarious…

    Since then, of course, we opened a studio in Estonia with marvelous Estonian artists, which is starting its 14th year soon.

  3. on 22 Apr 2009 at 2:39 pm 3.Thad said …

    “They’re not easy to find…” the Fox and Crow cartoons or the positive words? Hah! Thanks for the link.

  4. on 22 Apr 2009 at 2:51 pm 4.Michael said …

    The Fox & Crow cartoons are rarely seen – except for the couple of UPA shorts. I like the Columbia output. If they were done today, we’d probably consider them masterpieces.

  5. on 22 Apr 2009 at 10:30 pm 5.Niffiwan said …

    Sorry for not being able to update more frequently. I have a huge backlog of things to post, to be honest, but I’m perhaps being too careful sometimes about publishing something rushed.

    The current Russian animation crisis actually seems to have started as a political/bureaucratic one rather than a financial one. Money for studios stopped coming many months before the storm hit, while the Russian economy was still doing great. There was no official public decision to stop funding, so this means that there was either a private decision or supreme incompetence. Studios kept expecting that money would arrive all year, because that is what they were told would happen, but it never did.

    P.S. Michael, you don’t have to keep checking my site – simply subscribe to the RSS feed, and you will be automatically notified when there is an update.

    P.P.S. In case anyone is worried about Norstein’s arm from that picture, it is long-healed (the picture was taken last autumn).

  6. on 23 Apr 2009 at 7:36 am 6.Michael said …

    Niffiwan, I am involved in a Russian financed animated short, so I can see first-hand the financing problems. It doesn’t look good.

    Ialso know, of course, that I can et your site on RSS feed. I prefer checking in to the sites I like, regardless of how often they change.

  7. on 23 Apr 2009 at 9:29 pm 7.Niffiwan said …

    Is this the one you’re involved in, by any chance?

  8. on 24 Apr 2009 at 7:56 am 8.Michael said …

    No, Niffiwan, it’s a biography of Mozart for Studio MIR

  9. on 06 May 2009 at 1:38 am 9.Steve Brown said …

    I guess everyone is already aware of the book, Yuri Norstein and Tale of Tales, An Animator’s Journey, by Clare Kitson, published by Indiana University Press?

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