Saturday, 7 June 2008

Rozalia Zelma (2) "Philipok"

I am not entirely sure of the translation of today's movie (it is called FILIPOK in translation) the second in my short series devoted to the masterly Russian animator and director, Rozalia Zelma. However it is based on the classic Leo Tolstoy story of Philipok, the young boy who wanted so desperately to go to school well before he is ready and certainly against his mother's wishes. Philipok made in 1982 is exquisite with a lingering, melodic soundtrack by Yevgeny Krylatov that is worth the entrance money alone. The movie has a majestic opening with a panoramic, sweeping scene in which a young child flies above the snowy villages of his Russian homeland. It is the story of the child from being swept into the air in his mother's arms, setting off for school in the cold and ice, being attacked by fierce dogs and, in another magical scene, entering school for the first time and learning the alphabet from his kindly teacher and his much older and larger classmates. With closing shots of a soaring hot air balloon taking the child's house into the heavens, the tale of a boy's desire to fly almost before he can walk and how education extends horizons beyond home and ice, can rarely have been so magically encapsulated in this metaphorical short. It is undoubtedly sentimental - tears streaming from the child's eyes - but this is a lush and lyrical adaptation of a great writer's work. Again the film is accessible for non-Russian speakers despite the passages of narration. I would have loved to have known what was said but message and meaning are fairly universal. Born in 1938 Rozalia Zelma studied at T.G. Shevchenko University in the 1950s and worked for the famous Moscow animation studio Soyuzmultfilm from 1965 to 1975. Her last documented piece of work that I know of was as producer of the writer T. Koinish's They in 2002.

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