Yuriy Borisovich Norshteyn (Norstein) was one of the most influential animators of modern Russian history. He was a member of the Soviet animation powerhouse Soyuzmultfilm until he was fired from the company in 1985 for working too slowly; as a member of the animation group he won many awards but did not create serialized characters, exploring new techniques with each production. His film Hedgehog in the Fog has a dreamlike quality and stunning stop-motion animation effects that young children are sure to find fascinating.
The film is available on YouTube; I have embedded a version below which includes English-language subtitles in case you want to explain the dialogue to your young'un as you watch. But the film is primarily a visual journey, which is what makes it so great for young children, and if you offer only a few plot points along the way, they can make up the rest.
As a product of the Soviet system, the film appears to be in the public domain. If you'd like to download it for personal use on your own computer, there are many free services out there. One of the easiest to use, if you are already using the Firefox browser, is the VideoDownloader Firefox add-on.
ZScore (out of 10): 10. I wondered if it might frighten her - the hedgehog is in a panic through much of the film - but she found it fascinating and seemed most moved by the film's calming elements, of which there are many. I read the subtitles for her a couple of times, but Z pretty much followed this one herself. However, to get the full effect of this film and explore two more of Norshteyn's beautiful, lyrical short films, check them out on DVD on Masters of Russian Animation, Vol. 2 - but be aware that much of the other content on the disc is over the heads of most young children.
Continue on to #2: Jiri Trnka!
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