Tale of Tales (1979 film)

Tale of Tales ( Russian : Сказка сказок , Skazka skazok ) is a 1979 Soviet / Russian animated film directed by Yuriy Norshteyn and produced by the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow . It has won numerous awards, has been acclaimed by critics and other animators, and has received the title of greatest animated film of all time in various polls. [1] Clare Kitson’s titled book Yuri Norstein and Tale of Tales: An Animator’s Journey .


Tale of Tales , like Tarkovsky’s Mirror , attempts to structure itself like a human memory. Memories are not missing in chronological order; instead, they are remembered by the association of one thing with another, which means that it can be used as a narrative. The film is thus made up of a series of related sequences which are interspersed with each other. One of the primary themes involves warfare, with particular emphasis on the enormous losses of the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front during World War II. Several recurring characters and their interactions make up a large part of the film, such as the poet, the little girl and the bull, the little boy and the crows, the dancers and the soldiers , and especially the little gray wolf ( Russian : серенький волчок , syeryenkiy volchok). Another symbol connecting nearly all of these different themes are green apples (which may symbolize life, hope, or potential). Yuriy Norshteyn wrote in Kino’s Iskusstvo magazine that the movie is “about simple concepts that give you strength to live.” [2]

Music and poetry

In addition to the original score composed by Mikhail Meyerovich , this film makes use of several other pieces of music. Excerpts from works by Bach (notably the E flat minor Prelude BWV 853 (from The Well-Tempered Clavier )) and Mozart (the Andante second movement from Concerto No. 4 in G major, K41 ) are used, and the World War II era tango Weary Sun , written by Jerzy Petersburski , features prominently. However, the most important musical inspiration is the following traditional Russian lullaby , which is included in the film in both instrumental and vocal form.

russian Transliteration English translation
Не ложися на краю.
Придёт серенький волчок,
Он ухватит за бочок
И утащит во лесок
Под ракитовый кусток.
Ne lozhisya na krayu.
Pridyot serenkiy volchok,
On ukhvatit za bochok
I utashchit vo lesok
Pod rakitovy kustok.
Baby, baby, rock-a-bye
On the edge you must not lie
Or the little gray wolf will come
And will not you on the tum,
Tug you off the wood
Underneath the willow-root.

Many situations in the film actually derive from this lullaby, as well as the character of the little gray wolf. Indeed, the film’s original title (rejected by the Soviet censors) was The Little Gray Wolf Will Come .

The name Tale of Tales came from a poem of the same name by Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet that Norshteyn loved since 1962. [1] [3]

russian Transliteration English translation
Стоим над водой –
солнце, кошка, чинара, я
и наша судьба.
Вода прохладная,
Чинара высокая,
Солнце светит,
Кошка дремлет,
Я стихи сочиняю.
Слава Богу, живем! ..
Stoim nad vodoy –
solntse, koshka, chinara, ya
i nasha sud’ba.
Voda prochladnaya,
Chinara vysokaya,
Solntse svyetit,
Koshka dryemlyet,
Ya stihi sochinyayu
Slava Bogu, zhivyom! ..
We stand above the water –
sun, cat, plane tree , me
and our destiny.
The water is cool,
sun is shining,
The cat is dozing,
I write verses.
Thank God, we live! ..


  • 1980- Lille ( France ) International Festival of Films : Grand Prize Jury
  • 1980- Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films : Grand Prize
  • 1980- Ottawa ( Canada ) International Animation Festival : Best Film Longer Than Three Minutes Award
  • 1984- Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival : voted by large international jury to be the greatest animated film of all time [4]
  • 2002- Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films : Again voted by wide international jury to be the greatest animated film of all time


Director Yuriy Norshteyn (Юрий Норштейн)
Writers Lyudmila Petrushevskaya (Людмила Петрушевская)Yuriy Norshteyn (Юрий Норштейн)
Art Director Franchesca Yarbusova (Франческа Ярбусова)
Animator Yuriy Norshteyn (Юрий Норштейн)
Camera Operator Igor Skidan-Bossin (Игорь Скидан-Босин)
Executive Producer G. Kovrov (Г.Ковров)
Compose Mikhail Meyerovich (Михаил Меерович)
Sound Operator Boris Filchikov (Борис Фильчиков)
Script Editor Natalya Abramova (Наталья Абрамова)
Voice Actor Alexander Kalyagin (Александр Калягин) as Little Gray Wolf
Movie Editor Nadezhda Treshcheva (Надежда Трещёва)

Cultural influence

The Australian electronic duo The Presets paid homage to Tale of Tales in the video of their song ” Girl and the Sea ” from their first album Beams . [5]

See also

  • History of Russian animation
  • Movies that have been considered the greatest ever
  • List of films based on poems
  • List of stop-motion movies


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Byatt, AS (2005-04-16). “Sweet little mystery” . The Guardian . London . Retrieved 2010-05-24 .
  2. Jump up^ CONTEXT – This Week in Arts and Ideas from The Moscow Times
  3. Jump up^ Russian Madison | Новости русскоязычного Мэдисона | article
  4. Jump up^ The Olympiad of Animation: An Interview With Littlejohn Finish
  5. Jump up^ Cartoon Brew: Leading the Conversation Conversation »Lee Lennox’s” Girl and the Sea “
  • Kitson, Clare (2005-06-15). Yuri Norstein and Tale of Tales : An Animator’s Journey . John Libbey & Co Ltd. ISBN  0-86196-646-5 .
  • Kitson, Clare (September 2005). Yuri Norstein and Tale of Tales : An Animator’s Journey . Indiana University Press. ISBN  0-253-21838-1 .

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