Sunday, August 16, 2009

Masters of Russian Animation

Masters of Russian Animation
Original music by Gojogo
Saturday, August 15, 2009, at 8:00pm
Community Music Center

Seasons (1969, Ivan Ivanov-Vano)
Wolf & Calf (1984, Mikhail Kamenetsky)
Heron & Crane (1973, Yuri Norstein)
Hedgehog in the Fog (1975, Yuri Norstein)
Tale of Tales (1979, Yuri Norstein)

When I first saw this event, I assumed that we were going to see Soviet animation from the silent era, accompanied by live music. Instead, the program consisted of sound films from the 1960s to the 1980s, for which Gojogo played their own compositions. As such, the endeavor is a bit questionable, especially as some of the films have dialogue & include music by Tchaikovsky, Bach & Mozart.

The event started 15 minutes late & began with an almost content-free 15 minute talk. I enjoyed the music of Gojogo, which has elements of jazz, rock & folk music & sometimes employs sampled sounds. I swayed in my seat when they slid into slinky dance rhythms for the Heron & Crane film.

I was often at a loss with the films themselves. Their story-telling & visual style are very foreign to me & seem technically crude. A couple are obviously for children, others I'm not sure who the audience is supposed to be. The program ended with Yuri Norstein's 30 minute Tale of Tales, which is apparently considered by many the greatest piece of animation ever. I, however, found myself getting impatient with its pattern of recurring, surreal motifs.

There was a capacity audience of about 90, many of whom seemed to be friends & supporters of the presenters. I did not see any children, though there was a second, slighly different, program given as a children's matinee this afternoon.

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