Daily post 27 Nov 2009 09:21 am

Norshtein Comics – 2

– I continue with the little book published in Japan which takes a number of cartoons drawn by an student working and learning in the studio with Yuri Norshtein and his small, close crew. Tanya Usvayskaya drew a sort-of diary featuring her boss as the primary character. This, of course, becomes treasure to those of us who relish any information about Mr. Norshtein.

As I wrote last time out in Part 1, the book was a surprise of a gift from Richard O’Connor Asterisk Animation .

Before getting into the cartoons, here’s a foreward by Hiroko Kojima.

    Yuri Norshtein’s Studio

    In Moscow city, in a section of an ordinary housing complex, there is Norshtein’s studio. The entrance is a common wood door. There is no mention of a studio or the Norshtein Foundation. No nameplate, no signboard is hanging. You just push a button. When we approached the entrance a dog barks. According to the tone of barking, members in the studio can guess what type of guest is coming. Friends, strangers, new to the studio or not. It is the role of Pirat, the watchdog of the studio. If he barks sweetly and hovers around unable to wait for us to appear, it is apparent that he likes you. Norshtein is staying at the studio except on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. There are rooms that serve as a kitchen and dining room, and a drawing room where everyone gathers. They drink tea, dine and take their rest. In the back, beyond a partition lays Norshtein’s bed. It might have been an addition. This section seems to be protruding out of the whole studio. This section’s roof is made of galvanized iron. When it rains, the sound makes music for the director. It is his favorite moment to listen to the sound of rain in this small area. Here all kind of works are performed. Telephone bells ring, a copy machine roars, Pirat barks and a nice smell of the soup for lunch cooked by Jina permeate the area.

    In the basement, a shooting table invented by Norshtein and his late movie director Jukovskii is placed conspicuously. Parts of characters and sceneries of “The Overcoat” are crammed here. Lighting equipment is placed here, there and everywhere, but it is completely dark and we are thrilled to enter there as if we are going into a theater during rehearsals or immediately after an act. The shooting table set with scenery is illuminated by light and we get the feeling that we are wandering into the 19th century. Little by little, filming is going on.

    Staff working at the studio contribute money for Jina to make meals. Tanya and Pirat take care of cleaning, shopping, etc. Staff are salaried by Norshtein. When disciples of Norshtein visit the studio holding a guitar and bringing wine, a banquet begins. Wonderful voices echo. Guests are Russian as well as foreigners from various countries. An Englishman lived in the studio and finished his manuscript “Tale How The Tale of Tales was made”. But not all people are accepted. Once I happened to be present when there was a telephone call from a TV station. A request for an appearance. He declined immediately saying: “There is an important guest from Japan and I will not be available.” I heard such requests declined several times. There is no need to worry that he cannot concentrate on his work when he accepts everyone. But 1 felt a bit guilty, as I am also a visitor who interferes his work. Anyway, Norshtein’s studio is full of artistic atmosphere and joy. Oil paintings, sketches and storyboards fill the wall and colorful dry flowers somehow find their place there. Simply being in the studio make my heart swell. But I should not overstay any longer. Instead, let’s enjoy Tanya’s book.

    Hiroko Kojima


Today’s Chapter 2 follows Norshtein on a trip to Japan.

Chapter 2. Norshtein’s Journey

Norshtein in Japan
A picture of imaginal behavior of Norshtein in Japan – day time.

Norshtein and Geishas.
A picture of imaginal behavior of Norshtein in Japan – night time.

Samurai’s classic pastime – Braid straw sandals!
Norshtein called us from Japan with laughter.
“I sit in a luxurious hotel and sew up my holed boots!”
while at this moment here in Moscow, Valya Olisvang ( a fellow director)
also sews his torn boots! And we sent a fax to Japan.

“Ivan the Terrible” a super animation!
Norshtein delivered a lecture on Eisenstein in Japan
and calling his film: Ivan the Terrible a super animation!

“Let’s begin a workshop.”
Norshtein’s Master Class – according to a female student of his class.

The children of Norshtein.
This is Tanya’s first cartoon of Y.B.Norshtein (05/03/1993)
when he taught in St. Petersburg. We were his students – rolling
down after him as in the film of F. Hitruk, “Boniface’s Vacation”.

“Let’s see the compostition of the picture.”
Master class in Sweden. Lecture on Gottland Island.
It is Carnival day today.

“Write down the following theme!”
Master class in Sweden. Norshtein complains that in spite of
sudden miraculous snow he has to give lecture in a building.
Then we advised him to work with students in this way.

“I want to eat more!”
Yuri Borisovich went to Poland and this drawing – note on the way.
Lutsia, the wife of Norshtein’s Polish friend, Yanusha Gazzi, cooks so
appetizingly we are afraid that when he comes back he may be like this.

“Hello Franya? Hello Yura!”
Norshtein phoned the studio and told them
he could not get Francheska on the phone at all.

“Russian animators in Broardway.”
One American business woman visited the studio and
enthusiastically told them that they are invited for a
performance tour to America. “Good” students immediately
took the opportunity to see how it will look like.

“Hey! Thank you! It’s all right!”
It was a fax for Hiroko-san from New York
about an arrival of a cowboy.

“Now, I am back home.”
Return of prodigal Norshtein.
First greeted Borisicha so warmly
and they stood for a long time.


2 Responses to “Norshtein Comics – 2”

  1. on 01 Dec 2009 at 1:56 am 1.Niffiwan said …

    Thank you very much again.

    “First greeted Borisicha so warmly” should be “Pirat greeted Borisicha so warmly” (Pirat is the name of his dog, and means “pirate” in Russian). And “Borisicha” is just very bad translation on whoever was translating – it should just be “Norshtein”.

    That one is a maybe reference to the well-known Russian animation series, “The Return of the Prodigal Parrot”, itself inspired by the Biblical parable.

  2. on 17 Apr 2010 at 11:02 am 2.Cordie Cue said …

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