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.
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« The 5th Annual Waterloo Festival for Animated CinemaIvan Maximov »

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

09:00:39 pm , 635 words, 3852 views     Categories: Animation, Indie, Movie

Konek Gorbunok

The Humpbacked Horse, Ivan Ivanov-Vano, 1947I had a chance to compare the two versions of The Humpbacked Horse recently. To begin with, I was surprised to find that there even was a remake. I mean, the folly of remaking what was already a classic seems obvious. And the remake did indeed seem to sap away everything that was good about the original, destroying the speedy feeling and great rhythm going from slow to fast to slow to fast that made the original so great. I don't know for sure, but it felt like they actually slowed down the animation for some reason. Perhaps it was simply all redone. I haven't compared closely. The fish scene that was added seemed rather pointless as well. In any case, it's a mystery what prompted IIV to do this.

I think what I most liked about the original was that it seemed to do something that has now become impossible in this gloriously bountiful and culturally levelled post-historic global marketplace, and that's create a narrative style rooted in a specific culture. Attempts could certainly be made to do that today, but they'd be self-conscious in a way this film isn't. This film has a naive freshness that few other animated films have because of that unselfconscious folksiness. In an age when all animated films seem to be cut from the same mold, it's refreshing to see a film that has a totally alien rhythm and pace like this one. Besides that, the animation of the horse flying about in the air at the beginning is certainly one of the best sequences I've seen in any animated film, Russian or otherwise. The litheness of the horse twisting and turning in the air in that sequence is just amazing.

If I've got a favorite character from PA, it would have to be Maniwa. But not just any Maniwa, the Maniwa specifically of ep 12, the Maniwa of Michio Mihara, with his gaunt neck, crooked gape, half-tucked-in shirt and dirty stubble. None of the other characters seemed half as endearing and fascinating as Maniwa in the hands of Mihara. He's got a brilliant eye for drawing just the right details that make a face interesting and unique. I'd love more than anything if one day we could get to see a whole film full of his characters. I was thinking he might be a possibility for No 4, but it feels like his strongly personal style of drawing might be a little too overpowering in this case. The last thing I'd want to see him do is water down his incredibly characterful and idiosyncratic drawings.

Some screenshots from IG's recent double-feature. The staff were asked what their favorite scenes were, and it's interesting to see that director Tsutomu Mizushima picks Ohira's while animation director Kazuchika Kise picks Hashimoto's. (top two pics in second box from the bottom, also in the box atop) Ohira's short tidal wave sequence in the shorter feature was similarly popular among the staff, with the photography director relating an amusing anecdote about how an "Ohira Special Ops" section had to be set up to handle his animation. Other than that Hiroshi Okubo and Chikashi Kubota were involved in the action, as well as a young face, Shioya Naoyoshi, who handled the bird finale. There's also an anecdote about some rascal having gone and tried to use 600 drawings for a single shot. Now I wonder who that might have been...

Speaking of whom, since before seeing Noein I'd been eyeing Hiroshi Okubo as probably being one of the people who'd be responsible for the good work in the show, having looked into his past work and noticed that he'd been involved closely with the Suzuki-Kishida-Matsumoto team in the past, and lo and behold, it seems probable that he was the one who did the opening of 1.

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