726. The Old Man and the Sea – Alexsandr Petrov

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SUMMARY: An adaptation of Ernest Hemmingway’s story of a man’s epic battle to catch a large marlin.

WHY IT’S HERE: Russian animator Alexsandr Petrov is surely one of the greatest artists working in animation and yet his earlier shorts are films I always struggled to connect with more than on a visual basis. With his Ernest Hemmingway adaptation ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ however, Petrov combined his astonishing animated paintings with perhaps the perfect source material to compliment their style. Petrov has always favoured the slow, philosophical narrative and Hemmingway’s story marries up perfectly with this approach, allowing Petrov to create stunning worlds with his paintings of oceans, beaches and wildlife. Petrov paints on glass, using a variety of brushes as well as his fingertips to achieve a realistic aesthetic quality that is to die for when brought to life on screen. This technique is used by few animators because it is so intricate and time consuming. Work on ‘The Old Man and the Sea took Petrov and his son over two years and consisted of over 29,000 frames. Having been twice nominated in the past, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ finally won Petrov his Oscar and there really was no competition. Despite it being a very strong year (Paul Driessen’s ‘3 Misses’, Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis’s ‘When the Day Breaks’ and Torill Kove’s ‘My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts’ were all also nominated), Petrov’s perfect twenty minute masterpiece stood head and shoulders above the competition. This is a film to genuinely treasure.

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