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Tale of Tales (1979)
"Skazka skazok" (original title)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 1,580 users  
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(as Yu. Norshteyn)
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Title: Tale of Tales (1979)

Tale of Tales (1979) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Cast

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Aleksandr Kalyagin ...
Little Grey Wolf (voice)
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Genres:

Animation | Short

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1979 (Soviet Union)  »

Also Known As:

Skazka skazok  »

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1.37 : 1
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Named the greatest animated film of all time by the 1984 Animation Olympiad jury held in conjunction with the 1984 LA Olympics. See more »

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Featured in Animated Century (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Utomlyonnoe solntse
Written by Jerzy Petersburski
Russian lyrics by Iosif Alvek
Performed by Aleksandr Tsfasman
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User Reviews

 
Raises animation to the level of the very best art cinema
25 February 2012 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Grand Prize winner at the Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films Russian director Yuri Norstein's Tale of Tales (alternately titled The Little Grey Wolf Will Come) was named by the 1984 Animation Olympiad jury at the L.A. Olympics as the greatest animated film of all time. Written by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya and Norstein, like Tarkovsky's Zerkalo (The Mirror), it consists of fleeting images, snippets of memory from the director's life. According to Norstein, the film was inspired by the poem Tale of Tales by Nazim Hikmet:

"We stand above the water - sun, cat, plane tree, me and our destiny. The water is cool, The plane tree is tall, The sun is shining, The cat is dozing, I write verses. Thank God, we live!"

The film opens with a grey wolf singing a Russian lullaby to a baby in a cradle:

"Baby baby rock-a-bye On the edge you mustn't lie Or the little grey wolf will come And will nip you on the tum Tug you off into the wood Underneath the willow-root."

Backed by an original score by Mikhail Meerovich and the music of Bach and Mozart, images roll by, some repeated during the film, without any apparent connection: a sad eyed grey wolf nurturing a little baby, a boy eating a green apple, then feeding it to the crows, a passive bull skipping rope with a small girl, men and women's dancing interrupted by soldiers, a woman sitting on a bench with her drunk husband, a man and his son wearing Napoleon hats ostensibly going off to war, women mourning the death of loved ones in the war, apples falling in the snow, among others. Norstein describes the film as being "about simple concepts that give you the strength to live."

Claire Kitson, former Commissioning Editor of Animation for the UK's Channel 4, in her book about the film: Yuri Norstein and Tale of Tales – An Animator's Journey by Clare Kitson. London, U.K., & Bloomington, IN: John Libbey & Indiana University Press, 2005), says that the images are not metaphors but actual events in the director's life. For instance, the woman sitting in a bench with a drunk husband comes from a couple casually spotted by co-writer Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, the apple from a happy and tasty experience of Norstein eating an apple while walking in the street during the winter, and the old house from the actual house that he dwelled in during his childhood.

But she warns that "the film is about memory and ...is also constructed like a memory" and adds: "this is achieved by the construction of a set of parallel worlds: the old house with, nearby, an old streetlight and the setting for wartime scenes; the poet's world, where a fisherman's family also lives and a bull and a walker come to visit; the snowbound winter world of the boy and the crows; and the forest next to a highway, where the Little Wolf makes his home under the brittle willow bush. In short, we must appreciate bull, poet, wolf, house, snow and so on not like metaphors of something else, but like bricks in a palace, notes in a symphony."

Selecting it as one of the fifteen greatest "seeking" films of all time, directors Gregory and Maria Pears described it on their website www.cinemaseekers.com as follows: "Through its philosophical depths, its visionary language and its use of sound and music, it raises animation to the level of the very best art cinema. Norstein is a consummate artist, who insists on painting every frame himself. The result is the totally unique evocation of his spiritual world that could only have been rendered through animation - no other cinematic form would have sufficed."

Enigmatic, magically beautiful, and very moving, Tale of Tales is a work of art that you cannot figure out but can only experience just by letting it roll over you like a warm breeze.

The 27-minute film is available on You Tube with English subtitles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_q3WoYawNI


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