Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Disney's First Russian Film is a Fairy Tale

Note the 2nd: This entry was supposed to post yesterday and I only just realized I had saved but not published - sorry! I'm updating the time references so it makes sense when you read it today (Wednesday).

Note: I see SurLaLune has posted on this topic yesterday too with lots of great links so I'm adjusting my content to minimize the overlap. Be sure to check out Heidi's entry HERE for more information about the film.
After dealing with ongoing Russian resistance to Disney show 'products', The Walt Disney Company have smartly opted for producing an all-Russian cast-and-crew (including some of their most famous and popular actors) family fairy tale film to help smooth the way into the market. With the Russian penchant for home-grown over Hollywood, (as they should - they have an incredibly rich and diverse culture, folklore and history, not to mention volumes of amazing fairy tales), this seems like a good way to help Disney find even more acceptance than they've had to date.Their first piece of Russian film-making will be released tomorrow in Russia (October 29th) and is a fantasy film based on Russian fairy tales and folklore. The title is Книга мастеров (Kniga Masterov) and is translated as The Book of Masters. Unfortunately, the English title translation doesn't appear to capture the spirit of the film at all. Instead of letting the title mar your impression, it may help to remember that a lot of Russian tales tend toward the epic or grand scale when it comes to characters and events. From Russia Info Center:
The Book of Masters is a sort of a potpourri, where characters from Russian folklore, and Pushkin’s and Bazhov’s fairy tales are brought together.
Just take a look at some of these photos here to see what I mean. There's also been one preview scene released that people are calling 'very Lord of the Rings' where the Stone Queen creates an army of stone golems. (You can see that scene HERE.)I've also included some traditional Russian folk art in this post, in amongst the movie scenes from their lovely old fairy tale Ivan and the Firebird, so you can see where some of the inspiration for the characters, designs and ideas come from (there's a note on the influence of Ivan Bilibin further down the post).The posters (and title) are, without doubt, typical live-action Disney in style but there may be more Russian artistic influence than appears in the marketing.

For instance, this trailer here, while still looking a little 'Disney-esque' to me, makes lovely use of illustrative art (echoing the fabulous work of famous Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin - you can see an illustrated biography HERE which shows you his style), to fade into the scenes. The other trailers I've seen don't seem to use this technique, but if the film includes any transitions or storytelling techniques like this, it makes me all the more interested in seeing it.

Sources: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE (interesting info on the Director at this link) and HERE (quotes from the Russian filmmakers as they started production at this link).
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