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Paradigmatic Monograph (Clare Kitson and Tale of Tales by Yuri Norstein)

Clare Kitsonís book Yuri Norstein and Tale of Tales. An Animatorís Journey (Eastleigh: John Libbey Publishing, 2005) is a real precedent: it is a monograph, not a famous feature-length film, but rather a short animated film. While the first is usual, the second is unheard-of. That we are really dealing with something unusual, can be noticed already from the introduction chapter where Kitson justifies the appearance of a book about a short film, reminding us of the high status of Norsteinís Tale of Tales in worldís animation circles (the film has been proclaimed the biggest animated film of all times by several surveys) and about the complex destiny of this film.

Formerly a distinguished Channel 4 editor for the animated film production, Kitson approaches the film Tale of Tales as a detective investigator. She parts from the fact that it is a film with a complex associative structure with many mutually unconnected elements whose appearance is difficult to explain, but, nonetheless, the whole film seems extremely coherent and strongly suggestive. By focusing on three clues: scriptwriterís statement that it is a film about memory, Norsteinís claim that film elements are not metaphoric but literal, and commentatorís statement that the film shows only 10% and the rest is hidden from view just like the ice floe, Clare Kitson embarked on the exploration of memory sources from which Norstein took the ingredients for his film and of all those hidden conditions in which the film and Norsteinís sensibility, manifested in his master-piece Tale of Tales, developed.

The result of Kitsonís investigation is an inspiring narrative about Norsteinís spiritual and creative development, the complex process of creation of his films, especially Tale of Tales, as well as the Soviet culture and sociopolitical atmosphere. Kitsonís book is largely stimulating, capable to intensify the film experience by demonstrating the inspiring roots of some elements, and, at the same time, it is discreetly but functionally rich with all kinds of information and illustrations. It is an exemplary monograph which, letís hope so, marks the beginning of discussing certain animated film masterpieces in writing. The book was published by the distinguished animation booksí publisher John Libbey Publishing. It is technically equipped, with precious supplements.

Hrvoje Turkoviś

Film Caricature: On Caricature and Caricatured Film Image in Animated and Feature Films
Creative Substance of Animated Film, or, What Is the Director Doing to Us?

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