Animation has been a feature of Russian film since its earliest days, with both adults and children as the target for its sometimes frankly instructional aim. In the difficult period after perestroika, Alexander Tatarsky played a central role in protecting and nourishing it, in his roles as energetic film-maker, educator and festival director.
Born in Kiev in 1950, Tatarsky worked as a critic before enrolling at the Kiev Institute of Theatre and Film, inspired by the master animators Yuri Norshtein and David Cherkasky, with whom he studied. One of his materials of choice was plasticine, though he was equally adept in other media and recently moved into computer animation.
"Plasticine Crow " (1981)
"Good Night, Children" (1981)
Through the 1970s he worked as an animator on other people's films, including his teacher Cherkasky's 13-part series Prikliucheniya Kapitana Vrungelia ("The Adventures of Captain Vrungel", 1979), but with the success of Plastilinovaya vorona ("Plasticine Crow", 1981) he launched his solo career. In this popular favourite, paintings spring to life, and plasticine figures constantly transmogrify to reflect the song text: "Once upon a time there was a crow. Or maybe a dog. Or maybe a cow". The gentle, surreal humour and folk-tale-like story became Tatarsky's trademarks.
For some reason, drunkenness was a recurring theme in his work, often treated disapprovingly. In Padal prosh-logodniy sneg ("Last Year's Snowfall", 1983), a lazy drunk is sent to the forest to find a tree for New Year; more seriously, Znaki ("The Marks", 1985) sees the effects of drunk-driving; and in Tuda i obratno ("There and Back", 1986), a monkey's transformation into a man is reversed by his fondness for alcohol.
«LIFT 1» (1989) animator.ru
«LIFT 2» (1989)
«LIFT 3» (1989)
"THE RED GATE RASEMON" (2002) dirigida por Alexander Tatarsky y Valentin Telegin Part 1/2
"THE RED GATE RASEMON" (2002) dirigida por Alexander Tatarsky y Valentin Telegin Part 2/2
The humour is equally surreal in Sledstvie vedut Kolobki ("The Investigation is Carried Out by the Koloboks", 1986), which concerns the kidnapping of a rare Striped Elephant. This developed from a series of short comedies about the exploits of the Pilot Brothers.
Pragmatically, Tatarsky provided title sequences for television programmes as well as making his own films and in 1988, as perestroika hit, he and Igor Kovalyov set up Pilot Studio, the tottering Soviet Union's first private animation company. For many, under intense financial pressure, these companies were simply a way to continue to produce films at a time when state support had plummeted. But Pilot also trained animators and though some left for lucrative careers overseas - Kovalyov himself was tempted away by The Rugrats in 1993 - many later returned.
With its dynamic writer, director and producer, Pilot continued its success, creating several short series (though Tatarsky directed relatively few, preferring to write, produce and art-direct) and working on the Cartoon Network's US-Russian-Korean produced series Mike, Lu and Og (1999). On a more serious note, his 1991 film Putsch was based on recent events.
Among Tatarsky's many prizes was an honourable mention at the Leipzig DOK Festival for Krasnye vorota Rase-mon ("Red Gate Rasemon", 2002) about a drunken sportsman. He was also the president of the long-running animation festival at Suzdal.
Pilot ran into problems in 2004 when the broadcaster NTV cancelled its satirical programme Krasnaya strela ("Red Arrow") without notice, but the studio managed to survive this and other vagaries of Russian broadcasting.
"The Koloboks Investigate": Parts 1 & 2 of the hilarious 4-part film directed by Aleksandr Tatarskiy & Igor Kovalyov (1986).
"The Koloboks Investigate": Parts 3 & 4 of the hilarious 4-part film directed by Aleksandr Tatarskiy & Igor Kovalyov (1986).
His most recent project was to produce Gora samotsvetov ("Mountain of Gems"), a series of 52 13-minute television films based on folk tales from Russia and its neighbours. To date, 30 have been completed. As he wrote to President Vladimir Putin before embarking on the series, this was intended to counter the parade of "foreign freaks and cranks" which infect Russian television. But in a later interview he revealed that it was more than that: Though the project . . . is certainly a work of art, it also has a clear political standpoint . . . What is happening in Russia is coming close to a state of ethnic war - and I don't want to live in such a country. The inspiration was to show that one race doesn't think itself better than another. I want to live in a country where tolerance reigns - otherwise there's every risk that we will move towards Fascism.
Tatarsky died in his sleep, unexpectedly, of a heart attack.
Alexander Mikhailovich Tatarsky, animator: born Kiev, Soviet Union 11 December 1950; three times married (two sons); died Moscow 22 July 2007. (via)
"PILOT-BROTHERS COOK MACARONI FOR BREAKFAST" (1996)
"Gone with the wind" - "Унесённые ветром" - (1999)
Biografía de Tatarskiy en Livejournal.
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