Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
May 2007
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Archives for: May 2007, 18

Friday, May 18, 2007

12:07:14 pm , 410 words, 1314 views     Categories: Animation, Indie

The Cat Who Walked by Herself

The Russians, more specifically Soyuzmultfilm, have made some of my all-time favorite animated features, to say nothing of some of the most beautiful animated shorts of all time. Aside from the famous shorts, they also happen to have seemingly limitless back-catalogue of other films that has been criminally neglected outside of that country. Even their less-known films offer a tremendous amount viewed today, with lots of variety in style and tone, so they deserve to be rediscovered. They're of consistently high caliber, and more often than not are more original and engaging than most fare I see being made today, particularly in terms of mass-consumption animation. Instead of slavishly following a bottom line and formula, they have a poetic sensibility and freedom with methods and forms that you don't find in any animated films anywhere else.

Jeff over at Hydrocephalicbunny talked about a new blog called Animatsiya that is devoted to talking about the films of Soyuzmultfilm. Animatsiya dug up a lost treasure that embodies what it is that I most like about foreign animation and Soyuzmultfilm's animation in particular - The Cat Who Walked By Herself, a 70-minute animated feature released in 1988 that for some reason I'd never heard of.

I started watching the film expecting to be able to turn it off after 5 minutes, only to find an hour later that I had watched the entire film right off despite having other things to do. It's quite simply one of the most entrancing, beautiful, lavishly animated and original animated films I've ever seen. It instantly ranks among my favorites. It was produced right before that sad period in Soyuzmultfilm's history when they were embroiled in lots of management troubles presumably somehow related to the country's woes that negatively affected the studio's creative work. It is one of their late masterpieces, and it's shocking that it's been buried all this time. The variety of the animation is breathtaking, and what's most amazing is that the quality doesn't drop over he length of the 70 minutes, despite the arduous and inventive nature of the animation. Normally a poetic film like this would be limited to 10 or 15 minutes, so I think it's quite an achievement that they managed to make a 70 minute adaptation hold up this well. The amazing soundtrack is by famed modernist composer Sofia Gubaidulina, and hugely benefits the film. I recall seeing her name once or twice in other Soyuzmultfilm shorts. A must see for anyone interested in animation