Animation &Books &Commentary 30 Dec 2005 07:53 am


And my #1 bit of animation inspiration from the past year is an oldie but goodie:
Twenty-six years ago, at the third animation festival in Ottawa, I was struck between the eyes by Yuri Norstein’s brilliant masterwork, Tale of Tales. I had to own it, and it took me about two years to locate a 16mm print (this was before the ease of vhs tapes and certainly long before dvd’s.) I watched that film again and again and again. When I was able to get a vhs copy, I got one, with subtitles translating the dialogue I’d already understood on an emotional level. Now that the dvd is available I have one of them.
(Note: the vhs tape had all of Norstein’s work on one tape. Now Tale of Tales is on one dvd Masters of Russian Animation: vol 2, and all of his other films are on vol 3.)

It took a couple of months for me to learn about Clare Kitson’s book, Yuri Norstein and Tale of Tales: An Animator’s Journey. Now I have that, and I’ve just started reading. With my reading, I’m watching this genius of an animator’s films again.

I have had a love affair with this film and other work by Mr. Norstein, and I have pulled so much inspiration from it that I can’t begin to articulate it. He’s a brilliant artist of a film maker, and I recommend his films to anyone interested in animation.

Admittedly, it’s an acquired taste, but it’s the real thing. The story is not told in a linear way, and some of the film is purposefully slow. Be patient; watch it again. The animation is brilliant, the design is exquisite, the story is complex and emotional and sophisticated. John Hubley’s work led to Mr. Norstein, and the tree bore fruit.

I can’t wait to see how the next apple will fall.

One Response to “#1”

  1. on 12 Jun 2006 at 7:51 am 1.Bonnie said …

    Thanks so much for this link. I never knew there was a book about Norstein. He is my absolute favorite. I saw a tiny clip of his film “the overcoat” on a documentary on PBS called “The face of Russia” When that clip played I nearly fell out of my chair. It was less then a minute long but it was so beautiful I never forgot it.
    Then years later, one of my teachers (Howard Beckerman) showed us the whole VHS tape and announced that Norstein was coming to visit SVA. He animated right in front of us and using a translator told us about his life, how he works, ect. It was amazing.

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