Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hedgehog in the Fog: A look at one of Russia's most famous contributions to animation.

Hedgehog in the Fog (Ёжик в тумане) is a famous animated short based on a Russian folktale. The short was created in the Soviet Union in 1975, produced by the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow. The film was directed and animated by Yuriy Norshteyn (Юрий Норштейн) and written by Sergei Kozlov (Сергей Козлов), who also published a book under the same name. The film concerns a Hedgehog, on his way to meet his friend, the Bear cub, so they can sit by a fire, count stars, and drink tea with raspberry jam. The Hedgehog spots a white horse standing in a large cloud of fog, and goes to investigate out of curiosity. He soon becomes lost, and the rest of the story concerns his frantic struggle to find his way  to his friend while navigating this landscape of frightening noises and shapes while he can barely see his own paws in front of him. Possibly the most interesting part of this film is the visual style, looking very much like stop motion animation of the illustrations from a children's book. The actual method of animation that Norshteyn used is even more impressive, involving multiple glass planes to give his animation a Three-dimensional look. The camera was placed at the top looking down on a series of glass planes about a meter deep (one every 25–30 cm). The individual glass planes could move horizontally as well as toward and away from the camera (to give the effect of a character moving closer or further away). The film has won three awards, one for "best animated film" at the Frunze All-Union Film Festival in 1976, another for "best animated film" at the Tehran Children's and Youth Film Festival in 1976, and another for "Number 1 Animated film of all the time" by an international film jury in Tokyo in 2003. A statue of the main character (the Hedgehog) was built in the city center of Ukraine's capital, Kiev, in 2009. The opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics also referenced this work, listing it among other signature Russian accomplishments and artists.

Image result for hedgehog in the fog statue

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