3 Compact Russian Films - KarazwLaimoon

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3 Compact Russian Films

Cinema Talks > 2014 Spring (Season 6)

Date: 24 April 2014

3 compact films will be shown: one by Tarkovsky (58 min) and tw by Petrov (21 min) and (11 min)

Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Mouawad Museum (Beirut, Lebanon)

1) Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky)

Only the Bell Sequence will be shown (1963 at 62 minutes)
Russian with English S/T

Link to IMDB: Click Here
Trailer from YouTube: Click Here

Synopsis - Andrei Rublev
: (Adapted from Wikipedia: Click Here)
Andrei Rublev, also known as The Passion According to Andrei, is a 1966 Russian film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky from a screenplay written by him and Andrei Konchalovsky. The film is loosely based on the life of Andrei Rublev, the great 15th-century Russian icon painter. The film features Anatoly Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolai Sergeyev, Nikolai Burlyayev and Tarkovsky's wife Irma Raush. Savva Yamshchikov, a famous Russian restorer and art historian, was a scientific consultant of the film.
Andrei Rublev is set against the background of 15th century Russia. Although the film is only loosely based on the life of Andrei Rublev, it seeks to depict a realistic portrait of medieval Russia. Tarkovsky sought to create a film that shows the artist as "a world-historic figure" and "Christianity as an axiom of Russia’s historical identity" during a turbulent period of Russian history that ultimately resulted in the Tsardom of Russia. The film is about the essence of art and the importance of faith and shows an artist who tries to find the appropriate response to the tragedies of his time. The film is also about artistic freedom and the possibility and necessity of making art for, and in the face of, a repressive authority and its hypocrisy, technology and empiricism, by which knowledge is acquired on one's own without reliance on authority, and the role of the individual, community, and government in the making of both spiritual and epic art.
Because of the film's religious themes and political ambiguity, it was not released domestically in the officially atheist and authoritarian Soviet Union for years after it was completed, except for a single screening in Moscow in 1966. A version of the film was shown at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the FIPRESCI prize. In 1971, a censored version of the film was released in the Soviet Union. The film was further cut for commercial reasons upon its U.S. release through Columbia Pictures in 1973. As a result, several versios of the film exist.

Andrei Tarkovsky: (From Wikipedia: Click Here)
Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky (4 April 1932 – 29 December 1986) was a Soviet and Russian film-maker, writer, film editor, film theorist, theatre and opera director.
Tarkovsky's films include Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev, Solaris, The Mirror, and Stalker. He directed the first five of his seven feature films in the Soviet Union; his last two films, Nostalghia, and The Sacrifice, were produced in Italy and Sweden, respectively. His work is characterized by spirituality and metaphysical themes, long takes, lack of conventional dramatic structure, and distinctively authored use of cinematography. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest film-makers of all time. Ingmar Bergman said of Tarkovsky:
Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.

2) Dreams of a Ridiculous Man (Alexander Petrov)
Russian with English Subtitles

Link to IMDB: Click Here

Dreams of a Ridiculous Man: (Adapted from The Other Journal: Click Here)

Click Here for the complete text by Dostoevsky.
In order to achieve his distinctive style, Petrov produces a painstaking 12 masterpieces a second: multiple layers of glass are laid under a camera, and Petrov fingerpaints his images with slow-drying oils, often laying out the background on one pane and the moving elements above it. As he finishes each frame, he captures it on film, then reworks the still-wet paint to the next stage of movement, and so on, each frame a work of art erased by the one that follows.
Petrov’s method lacks many of the safegaurds of studio animation, where a scene is laid out and timed with all the major beats first, then each character’s extreme poses, then finally filled out with inbetween frames, each moment and gesture checked and adjusted frequently. There are consequences: Petrov’s scenes sometimes meander, and lack a certain clarity and focus. In subsequent viewings, after the initial bewilderment by the sheer beauty and difficulty of the films, the poor pacing and structure of certain scenes becomes more obvious.
Thankfully, Petrov plays to his technique’s strengths, telling his stories obliquely and often with a surreal edge. Sometimes he conjures the impression of a place more than all of its details, and often, one scene will gradually transform into another without explanation, like in a dream. It’s no coincidence, then, that every one of his films includes a dream sequence, from the constant fever dreams of My Love to the inscrutable Jacob’s Ladder sequence in Mermaid.
Only two of Petrov’s films have ever been released on DVD in the U.S. — The Old Man and the Sea as a standalone and Mermaid in a collection of Russian animation — but good luck finding them; they’ve long been out of print. You might expect Shorts International to at least offer his work on iTunes, but he is conspicuously absent there, too. I suspect there are some licensing issues: Magnolia’s DVD collection of the 2007 Oscar-nominated shorts DVD actually excludes Petrov’s contender, My Love. This is frustrating, to say the least. All of his shorts are available on Youtube, but given their visual sophistication, they deserve more. It’s also difficult to find good subtitles, although the dialogue in many of his shorts is largely incidental. There is this Youtube HD version of Petrov’s adaptation of the Dostoevsky story The Dream of a Ridiculous Man with a fine translation, so if you want a taste of his work, it might not be a bad place to start (although for sheer visual wonder his latest, My Love, is hard to beat, and I’d like to write about it later).
As the title suggests, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man is essentially one long dream sequence, a Boschian vision of heaven and a miniature portrait of the fall of man. The dream comes as a saving grace to a man who has decided to kill himself; first he is treated to what he thinks is the afterlife, a world like our own but free of lust and malice, then he witnesses its decline after he introduces deceit to its saintly populace. The ridiculous man is transformed by the experience, but in a typically Dostoevskian conceit, his vision of the weight of glory that awaits mankind of is treated with a dismissive laugh by the modern world in which he lives.
Petrov pares down the text of Dostoevsky’s short story — really a monologue — preserving most, if not all, of its shades of ennui, despair and solipsism, as well as its psychological diagnosis of the pre-fallen world. Though the film is terse in comparison, it suffers no thematic loss; Petrov supplements the text with a visual imagination all his own. The fall of man has no narration, but its arc is clear: Dostoevsky describes how a simple jest may have introduced lies to the prelapsarian people; in Petrov’s version, the ridiculous man corrupts the people by wearing the first mask, and the violence, lust and mockery that follow are harrowing.
Dostoevsky carefully treats his very Christian themes — paradise and fall, the golden rule as the root of a new kingdom — with non-Christian language and imagery, and Petrov’s inventions are in keeping with that spirit, never explicitly biblical but clearly of a piece.
As with many filmmakers, Petrov has a better grasp of the horrors of the fall then the gentle peace of paradise, which is a typical Renaissance world of togas, golden light and picturesque nudes. A few of his heavenly images are transfixing if somewhat opaque: a beautiful woman cups in her hands water from a fountain, which transforms into a miniature child, which she gives to the protagonist, who holds it in the palm of his hand until it turns into a bird. Another man ventures near the sun, which looms close to this world, and is taken in a glorious blaze of fire. Both of these images are later reversed. The fallen men leap through a ring of fire — perhaps hoping for a similar glorious disappearance — and instead set themselves alight and burn their city to the ground, dancing amidst the destruction. Later, the ridiculous man holds in his arms a cackling, miniature man who dissolves into sand, unleashing an avalanche that swallows a edenic beach.
The philosophical ambition of the film comes at the expense of a real sense of character, which may be one reason why it’s less discussed than his more character-driven films. Nevertheless, this Dream it is a challenging and strange vision, and well-suited to Petrov’s incredible but admittedly specific talents.

The Mermaid: The Mermaid is another animated short film by Aleksandr Petrov and showcasing the paint-on-glass animation technique for which Petrov is known. The story is based on traditional Slavic folklore about the Rusalki, river-dwelling mermaids said to be "born" from the unhappy souls of young women usually being mistreated by a man. The Russian "mermaid" is, for this reason, a dangerous creature more akin to the Greek sirens than to Disney's cute and lovable Ariel.

As springtime begins to break up the ice on a frozen river, a handsome young novice monk rescues a naked girl who has apparently fallen into the water. She disappears suddenly, but returns time and time again over the ensuing months—first demonstrating her dolphin-like swimming ability (and her surprising technique of catching fish in her teeth!) and then winning the young man's heart with her coquettish flirting and beautiful singing.

The young monk's elderly master comes to understand that the Rusalka is actually the drowned spirit of a girlfriend he himself had loved and betrayed as a youth, and takes steps to protect his naive apprentice from her supernatural revenge. But when the mermaid recognizes the old monk as the man who had once jilted her, it may not be the young apprentice who is in mortal danger.

Alexandr Petrov: (From Wikipedia: Click Here)

Alexandr Petrov was born in the village of Prechistoye (Yaroslavl Oblast) and lives in Yaroslavl. He studied art at VGIK (state institute of cinema and TV). He was a disciple of Yuriy Norshteyn at the Advanced School for screenwriters and directors (Moscow). After making his first films in Russia, in Canada he adapted the novel The Old Man and the Sea, resulting in a 20-minute animated short — the first large-format animated film ever made. Technically impressive, the film is made entirely in pastel oil paintings on glass, a technique mastered by only a handful of animators in the world. By using his fingertips instead of a paintbrush on different glass sheets positioned on multiple levels, each covered with slow-drying oil paints, he was able to add depth to his paintings. After photographing each frame painted on the glass sheets, which was four times larger than the usual A4-sized canvas, he had to slightly modify the painting for the next frame and so on. It took Aleksandr Petrov over two years, from March 1997 through April 1999, to paint each of the 29,000+ frames. For the shooting of the frames a special adapted motion-control camera system was built, probably the most precise computerized animation stand ever made. On this an IMAX camera was mounted, and a video-assist camera was then attached to the IMAX camera. The film was highly acclaimed, receiving the Academy Award for Animated Short Film and Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
After this, Aleksandr Petrov has maintained a close relationship with Pascal Blais Studio in Canada, which helped fund The Old Man and the Sea, where he works on commercials.
He returned to Yaroslavl in Russia to work on his latest film, My Love, which was finished in spring 2006 after three years' work and had its premiere at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival on August 27, where it won the Audience Prize and the Special International Jury Prize. On March 17, 2007, My Love will be theatrically released at the Cinema Angelika in Shibuya, (Japan) by Studio Ghibli, as the first release of the "Ghibli Museum Library" (theatrical and DVD releases of Western animated films in Japan).
In a 2009 interview, Petrov stated that he was jobless and using-up the last of his previously earned money. A 2010 article stated that Petrov wants to create an animated feature film with his technique, but cannot start because of lack of funds.

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