August 11th, 2008

drawing, old man

Russian Hobbit

Thank you to alek_morse for bringing this to my attention.

"The Treasure Under the Mountain" is a feature film that was never finished or released, based on Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Only the prologue survives. This video dates from about 1994, and was made by the company which is now called Argus International (list of films). It was Roman Mitrofanov's first directorial work. alek-morse speculated that maybe work was stopped because artists in Russia were just finding out about how copyright laws limited what they could make.

Translation/subtitles were made by myself.

Full text of song from the video:

Goodness and laughter, laughter and joy
Smiles light up the faces of all
and souls, like windows, are thrown wide open.
The sky up above shines clear and blue.
No-one wants to believe that bad dreams may come true,
nor know that some day
that some day the weather will worsen.

But the tempest arrived, as is always the case.
Disaster moves in to take merriment's place,
With fire and armor and no shred of mercy.
The desperate bell rings too late to assist,
And how will a mere paper dragon resist
a brave paper dragon
against one that's real?

When all is stretched thin by eternity's freeze,
When all is enveloped by blankets of time,
The Earth bit by bit becomes merged with the sky,
And night bit by bit becomes merged with the day.
But somebody here's left a track in the snow
which leads to a faraway
which leads to a faraway hope.

The rhymes aren't perfect, but I came closer than I thought I would while still keeping the translation accurate.

A more recent (and very different) film by Argus International is "My Life" (2000), which won the Annecy award for funniest film. It is directed by Natalya Beryozovaya. Here it is on Youtube with English subtitles which were added by someone other than myself:
drawing, old man

Books by Norshteyn and Hitruk officially released!

Note: Unheard of! Two entries in one day! ;) Don't miss the one below this one about the Russian "Hobbit".

Neither of these books have been translated to English yet, but I'd still like to mention them as each is written by a very respected master of animation. Yuriy Norshteyn is 66 years old and perhaps best known for Hedgehog in the Fog (video with English subtitles), and his unfinished adaptation of The Overcoat. Fyodor Hitruk (or Khitruk) is 91 years old and responsible for many beloved films, such as the Russian Winnie-the-Pooh films (here's one on Youtube with English subtitles!). His grandson, also named Fyodor Hitruk, is the administrator of the website

I'll start with Yuriy Norshteyn's two-tome book, Snow on the Grass, which is "dedicated to the art of animation and its relation to painting, culture in general and the phenomenon of art, and also to the story of the creation of Yuriy Norshteyn's films".

I already wrote about this before, but now reports that the book is officially released.

The first 800 books will be sold directly from Norshteyn for 2500 rubles (about $100). 400 have been sold already. If you're interested, send a message to this email: child12 (((@))) UPDATE 23-11-2008: Those 800 books were all sold; current information about where to find the book be obtained in Russian here. You must be able to pick it up in Russia or have someone willing to do it for you.

The price elsewhere is a lot higher: at it's 5264 rubles. At OGI bookstores in Moscow it is 3500 rubles.

Fyodor Hitruk's book, The Profession of Animation, also consists of two tomes. According to, it's already released, but in limited quantities; a wide release should be in September. According to vtokareva, 50 copies will be available on August 16 for the price of 600 rubles (send an email to the same email address listed above if you're interested).

Translation from news release:
The first tome consists of three parts: "How I Became and Animator", "The Profession of Animation", and "Lessons of Directing". The essence of an animator's work, the difference between animation and other types of art, and how an animator handles a scene are the main questions that the author attempts to answer in the first tome. Using his own films as an example (and also the films of Disney, Chaplin and others), the author writes about the steps of the creation of a cartoon from the birth of an idea to the final edit.

The second tome is dedicated to pedagogical and investigative work. It tells about nearly 50 years of experience in teaching directors and animators, and publishes pedagogical programmes and exercise methods for mastering direction and animation, as well as notes from some of Hitruk's master courses at the animation division of the Highest Directorial Courses. Also included are theoretical investigations into the history of animation ("Genealogy of Animation", "About the Language of Animation", "The Esthetics of an Animated Film"), and twelve profiles of directors of animation: Norman McLaren, Caroline Leaf, Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston, Bertold Bartosch, Břetislav Pojar, Aleksandr Tatarskiy and others.

In the final part of the book, his colleagues and students talk about the master.

If anyone's interested in obtaining the book, write to namastescop (((@)))

I will be reading both of them eventually.