Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hedgehog In The Fog

Hedgehog in the Fog
Directed by Yuri Norstein
Animated by Yuri Norstein
Russia, 1975

We watched this short in a course I'm taking called Russia and the United States. While discussing the cultural discrepancies between the two nations, we watched this as an illustration of Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's value orientations.

Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck broke culture down into a few categories including human nature orientation (do they think humans are innately good or evil?) and Man vs. Nature orientation (does nature dominate them or vice versa?).

This animated short addresses human nature orientation a few times, namely when our little hedgehog encounters the dog and the fish (or "stranger"). Although there are a few potential "bad guys", no character every actually does some thing bad- whereas numerous characters do kind things for the protagonist. This is a cultural value the US shares with Russia: a general belief that people are good at heart. On the flip side, you'll notice our pint-sized-pal gets knocked around a lot by good old mother nature. He's afraid the fog will choke the horse, afraid of the tree, and let's not forget 7:53 (possibly the most depressing line I've ever heard in a children's cartoon) where the Hedgehog calmly accepts that the river is probably going to drown him. This is a mentality that we don't share, preferring to dominate nature than admit submissiveness, which may be why it strikes me as so horrifying.

Aside from being an interesting take on Russian cultural values, this short also won "Number One Animated Film of All Time" in 2003 at the "All Time Animation Best 150 in Japan and Worldwide" competition.

1 comment:

haley schattner said...

I really liked learning about cultural similarities and differences you discuss in your entry. I, too, thought it was scary when I hedgehog admitted defeat to the water and welcomed the idea of death by drowning in his thoughts. The animation in this film is very cool. Did Y. Norstein use real nature footage interspersed with the animation--the tree from below and the water look very real?