Translate

Monday, 15 October 2007

Yuriy Norshteyn "Hedgehog In The Fog"


Yuriy Norshteyn's 1975 movie Hedgehog In The Fog is one of the most famous animated shorts of all time. It features a female hedgehog bearing a gift of raspberry jam wrapped up in a cloth, and making her way through rough country for a regular rendezvous with her friend a bear cub. As you might gather from the title the fog complicates the journey somewhat as does an eagle owl who stalks her. This is far from being a frightening journey however. The opening words reveal the tenor of the movie: "In the evenings the little hedgehog went to the bear cub to count stars." Certainly the first appearance of the owl is potentially frightening, rearing up behind our heroine ready to strike but losing its concentration as it copies the hedgehog's gaze upwards towards the stars. Along her journey the hedgehog encounters friendly creatures to set against the owl. One of the most charming is the gorgeously faced dog whose appearance comes just in the nick of time. Indeed a series of lucky escapes follow although for much of the film the hedgehog is entirely oblivious of the threat. The voice of Alexei Batalov as narrator has such warmth about it that one is not troubled by any sense of danger. This is a feel-good movie, under twinkling stars, full of good friends, fire-flies and a hedgehog whose first thoughts are always for others. Made in a period when time and manpower was not so constrained as today there is a rare beauty in the animation, abetted by a perfect soundtrack by Mikhail Meyerovich. The technique used for the animation is the painstaking one of drawing onto multiple glass planes to lend perspective and a 3D look to the finished product. The fog was created by the use of thin paper held over the lens. Having said this, Yuriy was severely reprimanded for taking too long to make the movie, censure that only abated when he screened what he had for a special committee of the party and they were won over. There has been a bitter legal dispute between the successors to Soyuzmultfilm, the Soviet animation company who made so many of the great Russian animations in the communist era, and the Californian company Films By Jove who purchased the rights to the library of films at the time of the dissolution of Soviet Russia. There are several ways to view the movie. A free way is via YouTube but should you want to enjoy the full splendour do what I did and purchase Masters of Russian Animation, Vol. 2 for the princely sum £7 plus postage. The difference in the quality is simply huge and you will enjoy a beautiful movie (for Christmas?)

No comments: