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Masters Of Russian Animation - Volume 2


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Product Details

  • Actors: Vyacheslav Nevinnyy, Mariya Vinogradova, Aleksey Batalov, Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy, Elena Chepoy
  • Directors: Andrey Khrzhanovskiy, Fyodor Khitruk, Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Yuriy Norshteyn
  • Writers: Fyodor Khitruk, Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Yuriy Norshteyn, Roman Kachanov, Roza Khusnutdinova
  • Producers: Andrey Khrzhanovskiy, Natan Bitman
  • Format: Animated, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 16, 2000
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305837201
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,844 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Masters Of Russian Animation - Volume 2" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Films included in this volume: Seasons (I. Ivanov-Vano, 1969), Ballerina on a Boat (L. Atamanov, 1969), Armoire (A. Khrjanovsky, 1970), Battle of Kerjenets (I. Ivanov-Vano and Yuri Norstein, 1971), Butterfly (A. Khrjanovsky, 1972), Island (F. Khitruk, 1973), Fox and Rabbit (Y. Norstein, 1973), Heron and Crane (Y. Norstein, 1974), Hedgehog in the Fog (Y. Norstein, 1975), Crane's Feathers (I. Garanina, 1977), Firing Range (A. Petrov, 1975), Contact (Vladimir Tarasov, 1978).

Review

The artists featured on the second volume of Image Entertainment and Jove Films' enchanting Masters of Russian Animation, in their decision to abandon the real world in favor of one over which they have complete control, knew full well the inherent power of images. Each of the twelve short films presented on the disc, spanning a broad range of styles and moods, is more astounding than the next. Unfettered by the laws of nature, the animator's vision is of the purest essence, limited only by the boundaries of their imagination (a lesson well learned by modern visionaries like Tim Burton and the Brothers Quay). Given the oppressive conditions under which these films were created -- Russia has never been a bastion of free speech and unrestrained creativity -- the decidedly upbeat message delivered by most of the shorts came as somewhat of a surprise^Ethe overall picture painted is glaringly positive.

The most visually stunning piece in the set comes from Ivan Ivanov-Vano and Yuri Norstein (whose 1979 film, Tale of Tales, was deemed the best animated film of all time by a group of international animation historians). Entitled Battle at Kerzhenets, the short illustrates the onslaught of an army of foreign invaders on the unsuspecting people of Russia, portrayed in the style of the ancient masters. The Russian women, cradling infants, their robes laced with gold, look unmistakably like the Blessed Mother of the Classical period, leading one to believe that the advancing hordes have come to not only destroy the people, but their religious beliefs, as well. The filmmakers used breathtaking stop-motion animation, cut paper, and forced perspective to bring the battle at Kerzhenets to life. The invaders are draped in black and gold, their ebony horses breathing fire as they storm across the battlefield. To great effect, the score (by Rimsky Korsakov) increases in intensity as the confrontation progresses. The final moments of the battle are especially devastating: their earthly shells heaped in mounds, the spirits of the dead -- black bodies silhouetted in neon blue -- oversee the arrival of their fallen comrades into the afterlife, far and away the film's most affecting sequence. All is not without hope, however, as evidenced by the film's final sequence in which the survivors of the confrontation rise up to rebuild their shattered lives.

The twelve films, digitally restored from new 35 mm prints (struck by the National Film Archive of Russia) and presented in a number of different aspect ratios, look absolutely stunning. The overall quality of the collection is not hampered in the slightest by the few infrequent bursts of print damage and minor discoloration, a fact of life when dealing in films of this vintage. The collection spans the gamut from wildly colorful (Vladimir Tarasov's Contact) to downright dismal (Yuri Norstein's dreary Hedgehog in the Fog), all of which are magnificently displayed in crisp, superbly detailed transfers. The mono soundtrack, while not as robust as it could have been (Tchaikovsky has definitely sounded better), serves the imagery well -- Vince Bonavoglia, DVD Unleashed

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
Higly, highly recommended.
Amadeus 888
The kind of depth he can create with only two dimensions to work with is truly impressive.
E. T. Johnson
The rest of the animation is pretty good.
"archaic_ron"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Jurosik on December 13, 2002
If you have any love of animation at all - the artistry, the depth, the impact - the Masters of Russian Animation volumes are a MUST OWN. In this edition, Norstein's "Hedgehog in the Fog" will tickle and please your visual imagination like NOTHING else! I presented this short film to an American suburban community center audience and they were SPELLBOUND! I've owned a lot of films on DVD (and sold a lot - crazy recession), but I'll never relinquish any of the four volumes in this series. NEVER! Enjoy, with my regards.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amadeus 888 on June 30, 2005
This DVD is worth gold just for the "Seasons" and the "Battle of Kerzhenets". The Seasons is one of the most exquisitely beautiful films I've ever seen by one of the greatest animators of the previous century, the Russian Ivanov-Vano. It is made on a multiplane (I think), using traditional russian lace designs and russian toys. The music is the "Seasons" (naturally) by Tchaikovsky. It's stunning and whenever I get a chance to watch it, I always get a sense of beauty and peace. Sometimes, I just wish I could live in that magical, fairytale world that Ivanov-Vano created.

The "Battle of Kerzhenets" is another film by Ivanov-Vano based on Russian Orthodox icons. A feast for the eyes, beautiful and original in all respects. The score is Rimsky-Korsakov.

Higly, highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Perry on July 18, 2005
Yes my Amazon name is a nod, if not an outright ripoff, from the Y. Norstein short included here. This disc is awesome! Norstein, the Miyazaki of Russia, is featured in this disc with four of his films represented here. I gain so much joy from watching these shorts. Just when we built up the notion of the evil red empire, our preseption will be forever changeed when we see these gems from our former enemy. The true masters of world animation are included here!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. T. Johnson on January 16, 2006
I really, really enjoyed this collection. Yuri Norstein's shorts, "Hedgehog in the Fog" in particular, are absolutely incredible. The kind of depth he can create with only two dimensions to work with is truly impressive. Also prepare to be amazed by "Butterfly" and "Ballerina on the Boat."
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miguel Lescano Cornejo on October 1, 2007
Verified Purchase
Geez, I did not know that Russian animators used to smoke the same stuff The Beatles did! I've just finished this collection, and although almost all are enjoyable in some way, I especially liked three: "Ballerina on a boat", which resembles the UPA cartoons of the same era in its minimalism, "Butterfly", which resembles Yellow Submarine's trippiest parts, and "Crane Feathers", which is curious because it is a Japanese folk story told by Russian animators. The last one, "Contact", is also very, very "Pepperland" (The town in "Yellow Submarine"). I have a couple of gripes with this collection:

1) Although "Seasons" and "Battle" are widescreen, they are presented within a 4:3 frame.

2) English subtitles are hard-coded in the four shorts that have dialogue: Fox, Heron, Hedgehog and Firing Range.

3) Two of the shorts, "Battle at Kerzhenets" and "Crane Feathers", should have more detailed explanation in the booklet. The first one depicts historic Russian events and the second one, a Japanese folk tale.

All in all, I liked this DVD and I think it is a fine addition to my collection of mainstream and not-so-mainstream animation. Even my mother liked some of the shorts and started to found morals in some of them.

Note to parents (warning: spoiler): All these shorts are family-friendly. Most of them were made for children. The only short that would deserve a PG is "Firing Range" for stylized violence (people dying in explosions, but we see no blood or gore).

I'll add a still image extracted from each short so you can see for yourself the quality of these works. I hope this helps you to make up your mind and buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donnie Darko on August 17, 2005
As a big fan of stop-motion animation, I was impressed by the offerings this DVD had. Highly recommended!
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