6.9/10
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The Lodgers of an Old House (1987)

Zhiltsy starogo doma (original title)

Director:

Aleksey Karaev (as Alexei Karaev)

Writer:

Aleksey Karaev (scenario) (as Alexei Karaev)
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Details

Country:

Soviet Union

Release Date:

1987 (Soviet Union) See more »

Also Known As:

Inmates of the Old House See more »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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User Reviews

 
The dreams of our childhood
30 September 2008 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

'The Lodgers of an Old House (1987)' feels like a single moment captured in time. In a way, it reminds me of one of my favourite animated shorts, Wildred Jackson's 'The Old Mill (1937),' in that it possesses nothing that might be described as a traditional narrative. It simply presents us with the inhabitants of an old shack – the old man, the intelligent dog, the mischievous cat, the inquisitive rooster, the adventurous frog – and shows them living. There's no conflict, no theatrics; only a selection of characters going about their day. I read one apt appraisal that described the film as being "like a pleasant and warm summer day; you don't want anything to happen, and you really don't want it to end." The short film was directed by Alexei Karaev, and uses paint-on-glass animation that calls to mind the later work of Aleksandr Petrov {not coincidentally, the two directors had previously worked together on the unauthorised Dr. Seuss adaptation 'Dobro pozhalovat / Welcome (1986)'}.

Karaev's ten-minute animated short moves along at its own leisurely pace, one that invokes the peacefulness and serenity of one's own childhood days – it's often the quiet and contemplative moments that one recalls most fondly years down the track. In the absence of spoken words, sound effects are used to marvellous effect, and sound operator Nadezhda Shestakova, in a manner similar to that employed in Norshteyn's 'Tale of Tales (1979),' often utilises surreal background noise – a passing train, a marching band, a baby crying – to establish the unearthly ambiance of the animated sequences. The only music comes from an early music-box, playing a haunting melody that effectively lulls you into a serene state of relaxation, the faraway chimes of a tune we vaguely recall from our younger years. The intriguing, bittersweet ending also suggests the dreamlike fantasy-world into which a child might retreat when the chill of winter prevents his playing outside. After all, in our hearts and imaginations, it is always a pleasant and warm summer day.


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