The gray Cherkassian cow lived alone in a shed attached to a railroad attendant's tiny house on the vast Soviet grasslands. The cow had a calf, and the railroad attendant's son liked the calf very much. Then the calf was taken away and the cow became very melancholy. She never had a chance to tell her story. This is her story.
(Contains Russian animation.)
Russian paint-on-glass animator Александр Петров | Aleksandr Petrov has been mentioned several times before, but he's never been the subject of an FPP.
«Корова» (The Cow
, 1989), which is linked above, was Petrov's capstone project at the end of a two-year course of professional studies in animation, during which he was instructed by the renowned Soviet animator Фёдор Хитрук | Fyodor Khitruk. Khitruk (b. 1917), a landmark figure in Soviet animation, has had an extroardinarily rich career beginning in the late 1930s and lasting well into the 1990s. He directed the Russian Winnie-the-Pooh
, beloved by Mefites, as well as 1968's satirical Film, Film, Film
Petrov was born in 1957 in a village near Yaroslavl
to working-class parents. From a young age he showed an interest in art and photography, reportedly winning his first camera — a Smena
— in a drawing contest at the age of ten. Upon graduation, he entered the Yaroslavl vocational art school
. In 1982 he began studies at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography
in Moscow, working under Ivan Ivanov-Vano (who helmed some of the most prominent Soviet animation projects of the century). Between 1981 and 1987 Petrov worked with Armenfilm
in Yerevan, Armenia, and at the Sverdlovsk Film Studio in Yekaterinburg
(former Sverdlovsk), contributing to
- «По щучьему велению» | As the Pike Commands (1 | 2, 1984)
- «Воробьишко» | The Little Sparrow (1984, based on a story by Maxim Gorky)
- «Добро пожаловать!» | Welcome! (1986, based on Dr. Seuss's Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose)
and several others.
is, of course, based on the short story of the same name by Андрей Платонов | Andrey Platonov (NYRB
). An English translation is available as part of the Platonov short story collection Soul
Petrov's next project was «Сон смешного человека» | The Dream of a Ridiculous Man
, 1992), after an eponymous story by Dostoevsky (translated
by the inimitable Constance Garnett
). Like "The Cow," it won several international awards. The story is a mystical meditation on human nature narrated by a demon-haunted, suicidal man. "Perhaps it was not a dream at all. Hitherto I have concealed it, but now I will tell this part as well. It was I who corrupted them."
In 1996 Petrov completed «Русалка
» | The Mermaid, an original story by Marina Vishnevetskaya, who had written for animation since 1983, often with supernatural and folk-mystical themes. A young monk encounters a mermaid, a spirit of the drowned damned. He is saved by his master, who had betrayed the girl in his youth.
Petrov next spent two and a half years in Montreal at work on an animated version
of Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea"/"Le Vieil Homme et la Mer." It went on to win the Oscar for best animated short, as well as a string of other awards. It was the first animated film to be shown in the IMAX format. (The first to be shot
in IMAX was the depressing More
In 2003 Petrov contributed a short
to the Winter Days project (previously
Petrov's most recent milestone is 2006's «Моя любовь» | My Love, based on a novel by the Russian emigré author Ivan Shmelyov
. Set in middle-class 19th-century Moscow, the story concerns gymnasium
student Anton (Tony) and the consequences of his irresponsible adolescent romances: one with a woman older than him and the other with the family maid. The film received criticism for sentimentality and putting techical accomplishment ahead of artistry.
- original Russian
- with quality Spanish subtitles (1 | 2)
- terrible video quality and awful English subtitles (1 | 2)
Since 2006 Petrov seems to have gone into hiatus, only completing a TV commercial
for the Persil manufacturer Henkel
's Schwarzkopf line of haircare products. A cohort of students he has recruited since 2007 recently released an inaugural short: «Ещё раз!
» | One More Time, a short pastiche of the happy, light-filled Soviet 1930s. (The familiar tune in the background is a popular 30s paso doble called "Für dich, Rio Rita." Here it is with Otto Dobrindt und sein Orchester
, and with Marek Weber & His Orchestra
. Apparently no connection to the eponymous 1927 musical play
A word about the animation style: Petrov is one of the few practitioners of "paint on glass
" animation. The technique consists in the application of translucent layers of oil paints to a glass plate. A single plate may be used for multiple shots, because the paint remains liquid and may be carefully manipulated using fingers or brushes. Here is a Russian-language interview
in which Petrov demonstrates his extremely painstaking method. He shows a few storyboard sketches around 1:05 and begins work on a still around 2:10. The amount of effort spent is literally astounding.