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"25th - The First Day" is the animated film of Yuriy Norshtein and Arkadiy Tyurin. Film poster for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. Fragments from the music of Dmitriy Shostakovich. The film was created on the basis of works by Soviet artists of the first years of the Revolution - Lentulov, Altman, Petrov-Vodkin and others.Written by
I don't want to ramble on for too long about my respect and admiration for Yuriy Norshteyn, perhaps the greatest animator ever to pick up a pencil. Suffice to say that his (unfortunately brief) filmography contains some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful animation I've ever seen, and few works of art can ever hope to rival the brilliance of his two crowning achievements, 'Hedgehog in the Fog (1975)' and 'Tale of Tales (1979).' But even geniuses have to start somewhere, and Norshteyn began his career as an assistant animator on dozens of 1960s Soviet cartoons. He received his first opportunity to direct (sharing credit with Arkadiy Tyurin) with '25-e - pervyy den / 25 October, the First Day (1968),' a celebration of the Bolshevik uprising on October 25, 1917. The short film is similar in style to Norshteyn's later film 'The Battle of Kerzhenets (1971) which animated Russian frescoes from the 14th-16th centuries and uses the artwork of Soviet artists Nathan Altman and Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, who were active in the years following the Russian Revolution.
Norshteyn's earliest directorial efforts are quite different from the masterpieces that brought him most of his fame. He uses 2-dimensional cut-out figures to simulate the motion, and character development is so slight as to be almost nonexistent. The film uses the iconic artwork of historical masters to represent symbols, ideas, to tell us of a nation rather than any one individual (a notion that fits rather nicely into Communist ideology). This impassive detachedness from the film's characters detracted, I thought, from 'The Battle of Kerzhenets,' but it works adequately here, even if I had absolutely no idea what was going on most of the time. The wordless film runs for eight minutes, and works as a frenetic collage of overlapping paintings, symbols and shadows, colliding together to tell a story that is incomprehensible to anybody not well-initiated in Russian art and history (that is, me). The animation, though not exactly beautiful, has a Soviet-style charm about it, all cubism and jagged lines. This is a worthwhile debut effort from Norshteyn, but he certainly got better.
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