Russian Fairytales: The Animation Edition

Friday’s festive screening of ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ went with a real swing – thank you to everybody who came along.

…but there’s no time to waste, it’s focus forward to our next event: Sing Russian! Earlier this summer Opera Coast approached us to create some animated projections to accompany two concerts of arias and pieces from Russian operas – one concert in Brighton and one in London. We have been beavering away ever since, creating pen and ink drawings of backdrops to create a projected ‘stage set’ for each piece in the performance. We hope you can join us at one of the concerts. Details follow at the end of this blog.

Photographs and clips will be available after the first performance, but in the meantime you might be interested to see some of the fabulous Russian fairytale animations we have come across during our research.

The Snowmaiden (2006)


Fairytales should be, in my humble opinion, 1 part magic, 1 part romance and 2 parts horror! This rather delightful 30 minute stop motion animation adheres to that formula – just check out the wood goblin… *shudders*

Rusalochka (The Little Mermaid) (1968)


An intriguingly stylised combination of hand painted cel animation and cut outs, ‘Rusalochka’ sticks somewhat more faithfully to Hans Christian Anderson’s original tale than the 1989 Disney version. Bold, experimental and beautiful to behold, this is definitely worth a watch.

The Ball of Yarn (1968)


Something about the uncanny nature of stop motion animation gives many stop motion short films a strange atmosphere, but the story of this short also adds in to that strangeness – it is about a ball of yarn, and a knitting hobby which quickly escalates and becomes something altogether more sinister.

Nalim Malinych (2015)


This imaginative mixture of styles and techniques tells a delightful tale inspired by the works of Stepan Pissakhov, famous painter, writer and storyteller in the tradition of North Russia.

Hedgehog in The Fog (1975)


This charming short film is probably the first Russian animation I ever saw. Master animator and storyteller Yuriy Norshteyn weaves a tale that is so enchanting it completely transports you. If you only settle down to watch one film from this list: get yourself and cup of tea, relax and enjoy this atmospheric little tale.

Hopefully that little taster has whet your appetite for some Russian fairy tales and folklore. If so, be sure to come along to ‘The Old Tales of Kitezh Grad’ – to book tickets, at Unitarian Church, Brighton: Saturday 10 December, 7.30pm, click here or Pushkin House, London: Friday 16 December, 7.30pm, click here.

Full details of the project are on our website

Stairway to Heaven: A Matter of Powell and Pressburger

We’re getting very excited about our screening of ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ this Friday at St Michael’s Church, Brighton. If you haven’t already booked, be sure to do so – due the limited space, we often sell out at this venue, and this festive occasion looks like it will be no exception! Full details to book follow at the end of this post.

Its no secret that we’re huge Powell & Pressburger fans here at Filmspot, so we thought in preparation for ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, we’d provide a ‘beginner’s Guide’ of sorts with a taste of a few of The Archers’ greatest hits!

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)


This profoundly moving film is a portrait of a man who would on first glance be just a stuff British caricature (in fact, it was based on a satirical comic strip character created by David Low), but is in fact a true gentleman – and one of the most unexpectedly lovable characters in cinema.

Canterbury Tale (1944)

Both eerie and beautiful, this strange tale is one of Powell and Pressburger’s most intriguing films. The bucolic side of England is at the heart of this film, with some wonderful little vignettes of rural life, such as the small boy in the clip above.

I Know Where I’m Going! (1945)


A swooning love story – this is surely one of the very best British romantic films. Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey both give wonderful performances, while the rich cinematography really captures the essence of the Scottish Isles.


Black Narcissus (1947)


This is (with the exception of Powell’s solo work ‘Peeping Tom’) the most terrifying work by The Archers – and there are many instances of unexpected horror throughout their filmography. Kathleen Byron has a truly ghostly presence as a nun whose delusions and lust for the local British agent, Mr Dean, drive her insane; whilst Deborah Kerr’s conflicted Sister Superior attempts to ignore her own attraction to Mr Dean, and to forget her past life in Ireland. Stunning use of colour, and a ‘prince and the pauper’ subplot make this multi layered tale one of Powell and Pressburger’s most memorable films.

The Red Shoes (1948)


Arguably the most famous of Powell and Pressburger’s films, The Red Shoes almost needs no introduction. It is, in our opinion, the greatest ballet film of all time, with a fantastic cast of memorable characters (many of whom were professional dancers), stunning technicolour cinematography from Jack Cardiff and sweeping, tragic romance. If you haven’t seen this film: go and see it!

…but of course, before you dash out to pick up copies of all the films above – don’t forget to book your tickets to ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ at St Michael’s Church Hall, Brighton

Friday 2 December, doors open 7pm, for screening at 7.30pm
Tickets: £9 including a festive drink and seasonal snacks

Advance booking essential, there will not be tickets available at the door!
Tickets available from eventbrite – or by emailing info@lja.uk.com