niffiwan (niffiwan) wrote,

"There Lived a Tree" by Vladimir Petkevich (Belarusfilm, 1996)

It was nearly 3 years ago that I last talked about a film by Petkevich. That time, it was the beautiful and poetic "Forest Tales" by Yelena Petkevich, which was animated with sand.

This film that I discovered recently is by her husband, Vladimir Petkevich, and was made during the same period. It looks like the Petkeviches are very close to each other, because if you look at their respective films throughout the years, their styles change significantly and at about the same time. This mid-1990s style is my favourite. If anything, Yelena's films seem a little more polished to me, while Vladimir's lean to being a bit more cartoony and loose.

This film is the best work by Vladimir that I've seen. I don't know how well it transfers across cultures, but for me it brought back strong memories of living in a little house in the country, where (in contrast to sterile city apartments) there is life all around and all sorts of minor joys and tragedies to teach you about the world. But mainly, it is about beginnings and ends... about the life of a house which, after it is abandoned, becomes a new beginning for someone else... The film combines realism and symbolism, and I think it comes close to having the perfect mix between the two.

It makes heavy use of what in Russia is called total animation (there is no English term for the concept), which is when the entire image is redrawn frame-by-frame instead of moving the characters and keeping the background static (the usual method, which is done to keep time and costs low in 2D animation but results in limited camera movement and a certain statism). Its application seems to be more widespread in Russia, and I think it adds a dynamism and liveliness to the image and a greater connection with the artist, similar to fingerprints in clay animation.

The film is mostly wordless, except for a song at the end that I translated. English and Russian subtitles are available (if they don't show up, click on the triangle at the lower right of the video, and turn on CC).

Яблоня с листом
Яблоня с листом
всю осень шумела:

"Листочек же мой,
зелененький мой,
ты ж меня покидаешь."

"Не плачь яблонька.
не плачь милая;
я ж тебя не покину.

В осень упаду,
весной вырасту
...и с тобой буду."

Apple tree and leaf,
apple tree and leaf
rustled through the autumn:

"Dearest leaf of mine,
Greenest leaf of mine,
Why must you leave me?"

"Apple tree, don't cry.
Dearest, don't cry.
I will not leave you.

"This autumn I'll fall;
next spring I'll grow tall
...and be with you."

(Update 2011-01-04 - changed first 3 lines of translation)

P.S. This film also reminds me a little of The Lodgers of An Old House that was directed by Aleksey Karayev.
Tags: 1990s, belarusfilm, petkevich, subtitles

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