I never was too big of a fan of Russian animation. Not that I hate it or dislike it, I am just not a big fan. And in this blog I waned to write about Japanese animation specifically, not about everything. So why then I am writing a post about a Russian cartoon “The Old Man and the Sea”?
Because this movie amazed me. I went to look at it, just to see how the animation looks like, and I could not stop watching. That small, twenty minutes long thing is a work of art. Just look at it. From what I’ve read they used something that is called “paint-on-glass animation” to make the cartoon. I like how people look there, kinda like how they look on traditional European paintings. And the water, that is another thing that impressed me a lot. Animating water is hard, it has no color yet it has shape and it reflects light. And of course, you can just draw something in blue paint and call it water, yet I will not prize you for that then :P In “The Old Man and the Sea” water is drawn again in this way that reminds you of classical paintings, yet the water doesn’t look flat and immobile, on the contrary, it is very dynamic and real.
But the animation is not the only thing that impressed me. The movie is an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel with the same name. And this novel, I will not be surprised if you have read it, cause it is well known, and rightly so. And what it means for this cartoon is that it has a good story. Good, yet simple. An old man is going to sea to fish. He was not able to catch anything lately, and he lost faith in his luck. Yet he is old and fishing is his life, so he has nothing else to do but go again. And this time there is something that pulls on the string on his fishing rod. Something way too big and strong for him to pull. That fish is so powerful that it pulls his boat further and further from the shore, into the see.
Yet the old man won’t cut the string, he keeps fighting the fish. That goes on for days. And the old man seems happy about it, as if this fight is what he lives for. And it is interesting, really. He is glad he found such an astonishing fish. As a fisherman, he is glad to be able to fight a great opponent, to catch on his own something that most of the people never dreamt of even seeing. Yet here is what he says, talking to himself:
Animals and humans are somewhat alike. Though animals are not as smart as humans who kill them, they have more honor and they are stronger. I wish I could be that fish in the depths of the sea. That marlin is my brother. Yet I have to kill him.
And that is fascinating, hearing from a fisherman that he wants to be that same fish that he knows is doomed to die from his hand. But his words ring true. He is an old man and he likes sea and he, maybe just a little bit, regrets that he comes there to kill. Yet killing and dying is a part of life, and spending time in the wild he knows that well enough.. and maybe that is why he is so easily saying that he would have liked to become the fish, because he knows that he can die either way, be he a fish or a man. But let’s hear what he says next:
I am glad that at least we don’t have to be killing stars.
And you can say that this is ridiculous. But think about this man. He had spent his life catching fish. That means being on the boat far from the shores, with a small crew or all alone. Only he, his boat, fish that he hunts and the sky above, with the stars shining at night. And he loves fish, and he kills it. And so he is just glad he don’t have to kill the stars that I guess he loves too. That is just so simple, but there is something behind it, something that is hard to express by words.
Just think about a life, that would lead you to say those words.
I do recommend you to watch this film. It is made more or less by one man, Aleksandr Petrov with a help of his son. It was finished in 1999. There are English and Russian versions of the dub, I watched it in Russian, but I am sure you can find it in English, or with subs.
That is it =) Sorry if you don’t like off topic posts in a blog that has an “anime” in its name, but I do make a very few of them every now and then, can’t help myself. See you next time (^_^)/