Kaspar Jancis, Ülo Pikkov & Priit Tender – Frank and Wendy (2005)


Two American secret agents – Frank and Wendy – are sent to the world’s hotbed of danger, known as Estonia. Estonia is a silly place, perhaps even sillier than the agents themselves. Frank and Wendy, for whom saving the world is their daily work, achieve both mental and manual feats with the greatest of ease. It appears that nothing can prevent their ultimate victory, but go figure. The axis of evil does not wither and attacks the super-agents from where they can least expect it… Read More »

Claude Misonne – Le Crabe aux pinces d’or AKA The Crab with the Golden Claws (1947)


Description: Stop-motion animated version of the classic TinTin story. Tintin is informed by the Thompsons of a case involving the ramblings of a drunken man, later killed, found with a scrap of paper from what appears to be a tin of crab-meat with the word Karaboudjan scrawled on it. His subsequent investigation and the kidnapping of a Japanese man interested in talking to him leads Tintin to a ship also called the Karaboudjan, where he is abducted by a syndicate of criminals who have been hiding opium in the crab tins. Escaping from his locked room, Tintin encounters Captain Haddock, an alcoholic who is manipulated by his first mate, Allan, and is unaware of his crew’s criminal activities. Escaping the ship in a lifeboat in an attempt to reach Spain, they are attacked by a seaplane. They hijack the plane and tie up the pilots, but a storm and Haddock’s drunken behaviour causes them to crash-land in the Sahara. Read More »

Ideya Garanina – Koshka, kotoraya gulyala sama po sebe AKA The Cat Who Walked by Herself (1988)


Virtually unknown nowadays, even in its home country of Russia, The Cat Who Walked by Herself is an endearing children’s film directed by Ideya Garanina and produced at the Soyuzmultfilm studio. It is based upon Rudyard Kipling’s short story “The Cat that Walked by Himself,” which was first published in 1902. As far as I’ve been able to tell, the film uses a variety of animation techniques, including puppetry, stop motion and traditional animation, blending it all into an interesting tale of the origin of the civilised human and his millenia-long partnership with several species of domesticated animal. The story is narrated by a seemingly omniscient cat, who reminds a young child of an agreement struck long ago by the Cat and the Woman. The voice of the feline (whom, having absolutely no knowledge of Russian, I have been unable to identify) is a brilliant narrator, her voice at once carrying a sense of quiet arrogance, pride, dignity and everlasting knowledge. Read More »

René Laloux – La Planète Sauvage AKA The Fantastic Planet [+Extras] (1973)


René Laloux’s mesmerising psychedelic sci-fi animated feature won the Grand Prix at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and is a landmark of European animation. Based on Stefan Wul’s novel Oms en série [Oms by the dozen], Laloux’s breathtaking vision was released in France as La Planète sauvage [The Savage Planet]; in the USA as Fantastic Planet; and immediately drew comparisons to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Planet of the Apes (both the 1968 film and Boule’s 1963 novel). Today, the film can be seen to prefigure much of the work of Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) due to its palpable political and social concerns, cultivated imagination, and memorable animation techniques. Read More »

Suzan Pitt – El Doctor (2006)

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EL DOCTOR is a dark animated poem set in a crumbling Mexican hospital about 1920. Inhabited by surreal characters including the man shot with one hundred holes, the girl who sprouted morning-glories, and the woman who thinks she is a horse, the Doctor prefers to drink. The Saint of Holes and a mysterious gargoyle rearrange the Doctor’s fated demise and send him on a dark and twisted journey.

The film celebrates the nature of perception and the miraculous. Over five years in production the film was entirely hand painted by artists in Los Angeles and Mexico. Read More »

Tadanari Okamoto – Tadanari Okamoto Film Works Vol 4 (1961 – 1995)


Beginnings: 1932-1963

To tell Okamoto’s story from the beginning, we have to make a short detour
to talk about Tadahito Mochinaga, the legendary father of Japanese stop-motion
animated filmmaking. Mochinaga had started out working under Mitsuyo Seo,
and had left Japan for Manchuria just before the end of the war, where he found
himself in demand for his animation knowhow. (To learn more about his fruitful
China period, I refer you to an outstanding article on Mochinaga by Kosei Ono on AWN.) Read More »

Boris Stepantsev – Vovka v Tridevyatom tsarstve AKA Vovka in Far Far Away Kingdom (1965)


19 min. 48 sec.

directed by Boris Stepantsev
written by Vadim Korostylev
art directors Anatoly Savchenko, Petr Repkin
artists O. Ghemmerling, Lev Arkadyev
animators Anatoly Abarenov, Galina Barinova, Antonina Alyoshina, V. Dolgikh, Youry Butyrin, Leonid Kayukov, Tatiana Taranovich, Victor Arsentiev, Olga Orlova, Anatoly Petrov, S. Zhutovskaya
cameraman Michael Druyan
music I. Yakushenko
sound Boris Filchikov
script editor Raisa Frichinskaya
voice artists Emma Treivas, Michael Yanshin (Tsar) , Clara Rumyanova (Vassilissa) , Elena Ponsova (The Old lady and the Librarian) , Rina Zelenaya (Vovka) Read More »