December 31, 2006
It wasn't hard to decide on the subject of our look back at 2006; almost from the beginning, observers were commenting on the number of features being produced in North America, and the biggest news in January concerned the union of the old and new titans of American feature animation, Disney and Pixar. Meanwhile, festival audiences were being treated to exquisite and daring new films from abroad like Princess, Renaissance, The Christies, Book of the Dead and the oblique, partly animated The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes and anime fans found themselves in the midst of a feature revival with Origin: Spirits of the Past, Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast-Food Grifters, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Paprika and the recently released Tekkon Kinkreet—each one different from the other in style and tone.

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For shame! I cannot believe that you neglected to mention probably the most beautiful traditionally-animated film to come out this year (and a pretty dramatic one too), "Prince Vladimir". Download the trailer here and look at the animation:
http://www.kinomania.ru/movies/k/Kniaz_Vladimir/trailer.shtml

and here's another lower-quality collection of clips on Youtube:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=FWxhBR9P6lw

It is absolutely gorgeous!
I ended up cutting the excellent Prince Vladimir from my piece because of space, more than anything else. I originally mentioned how the movie, which I would surmise includes children in its target audience, doesn't flinch from war, death and remorse when telling a piece of historical fiction -- but I decided that my mention of Khan Kluay already covered that, plus it tied in to what I wanted to say about unserved audiences.

One observation about Prince Vladimir, though. I really liked how when the two brothers are in town and are awestruck by a beautiful woman, the woman in question fits more with what you'd expect from peasants of the day: that is, shall we say, pleasantly well-rounded. It's a nice change from the assumption that every era had a thing for supermodels.
Yes, that makes sense. My issue was more with this particular sentence: "As far as animation itself is concerned—creating movement frame by frame—2006 did not present any significant achievement. The year can be described as that of performance capture."

Not exactly fair to call Prince Vladimir "no significant achievement" - it was by far the highest-grossing Russian animated film to date, and marks a significant achievement in Russian animation (compare it with past films like "Alosha" by Melnitsa Animation Studio). It's one more sign of the re-awakening of the Russian animation industry in recent years, and just because it hasn't been released in many places outside of Russia (and therefore won't be competing for the Oscar, predictably) doesn't mean that it's not an important release for the year 2006.

Of course, it was good that you mentioned Khan Kluay (which is only Thailand's second-ever animated feature film - the first was a classic from the 1970s and still hasn't been released internationally in any way).

I hear that they are going to start work on the second part of the "Prince Vladimir" story very soon, which will be released in 2008. Hopefully it'll get a little more international exposure.

By the way, the woman would be considered beautiful in Russia by today's standards too. Russians have an extremely low rate of eating disorders compared to Western countries - I read an article once that a researcher was unable to find any Russian woman with an eating disorder for an international study. ;)


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