Thursday, 23 August 2007

Eduard Nazarov "There Once Was a Dog"

Today's movie is a ten minute treat. Based on a Ukrainan folk story, Eduard Nazarov tells the funny story of an old dog whose best years are in the past. His misadventures with his kindly, rural living owners culminate in him being kicked out into the wilds and having to fend for himself. This he most indisputably fails to do. His doomed attempt to climb a tree to catch a bird are so funny that his old adversary the wolf offers to help. After all, the wolf also is getting too long in the tooth - though in normal times this would be considered not such a bad thing for a wolf perhaps! Their plan to win back the admiration of the village community works well enough until, as in Potapych in Darren Price's tale, we discover that wolves and bears should not under any circumstances drink vodka. This is a superbly drawn 2D animation with particularly good representations of the rather idealised Ukranian people and quite delightful folk songs. Some of the scenes make one laugh aloud, such as the wolf, as he wishes to express his appreciation of his unwitting hosts' generosity, feeling the need to burst into song from his hiding place under the table. You can view "There Once Was a Dog" on one of my favourite DVDs, Masters of Russian Animation, Vol. 3 and it is terrific value. Not quite so cheap as the YouTube version however although the quality is nowhere near as good. Eduardo is one of those world class Russian animators whose work provides a lead for us all. His 1979 film Hunt, by the way, is also outstanding.

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