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Monday, April 18, 2011

Aleksandr Petrov: My Love (2006)

After his success with The Old Man and the Sea (Oscar in 1999 for Best Animation), Aleksandr Petrov returned to Yaroslavl and started again working on masters of Russian literature. After Platonov, Dostoevsky and Pushkin this time his choice was a writer from the emigration: Ivan Shmelyov.

Maybe the most impressive of Shmelyov's novels is Солнце мертвых (The Sun of the Dead), written in 1923: it takes place in the Crimean peninsula during the Russian Civil War. The White Army of general Wrangel just left and people are waiting for the Bolshevik terror to come. Meanwhile hunger is sovereign. Everything gradually dies against the background of the loveliness of nature, on the shore of the azure sea, under the rays of a golden sun — the sun of the dead, because it illuminates an earth on which everything has been eaten, drunk, trampled—on which poultry, animals, and men are all dying (Wikipedia).

Petrov took another of Shmelyov's novels: История любовная (A Story of a Love). It was written in 1927, when the author was already set in France. A boy of sixteen encounters his first love, in all innocence. It's tempting, and it's unknown chart. He falls for the household maiden, he is also troubled by the mysterious young lady from the house nearby, he doesn't know which way to follow, so he advances quirky on both. He will fail, of course, and the memory of the first love will accompany him for all life, with a very unclear feeling of guilt. Or sorry? For the girl, or the girls? For his innocence? For the time that never comes back?

It is a story full of nostalgia. For the time that never comes back, for that past lived in Russia, lost for always. For everything that hasn't happened, for everything that could have been different.

And it's a delicate and noble story, calling in mind the delicate and noble pages of Turgenev: nostalgia for the Russia of Turgenev, for all that could have been so beautiful and remained unaccomplished, abandoned, destroyed.

Petrov worked five years to make this animation. Maybe it is the perfect match. The delicacy of the story by Shmelyov couldn't find a better rendering than this one: the delicacy of the pastels of Petrov. As someone has said, from now on I cannot dream but in the pastels of Petrov.

(Aleksandr Petrov)



  • Thank you for your interesting blog!
    Alexander Petrov indeed created a miraculous film which flow like a tender luminous river with marvelous magnetic music.

    A brilliant achievement!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:10 PM  

  • Thank you for your appreciation!

    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 5:35 PM  

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