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Time Time10 mins
LanguageRussian
The Battle of Kherzhenets
Сеча при Керженце

This animated short is based on the Russian legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, which was reputed to have disappeared under the waters of Lake Svetloyar to escape an attack by the Mongols. This medieval folk tale was adapted into an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov in 1907, which serves as the basis for Yuri Norstein and Ivan Bivanov-Vano’s stunning stop-motion animation, which employs medieval frescoes to blend myth and reality.

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Leonard Bacica
Leonard Bacica
Tame homage to a legendary past
This little animation film has documentary value for sure, and I imagine it was quite innovative for the era.

The use of Byzantine imagery in an animated movie is certainly interesting, though judged through the lens of today I wish it would have gone the innovative route all the way, including the narrative.

As it is, it's a tame short film paying homage to an imagined glorious past and trying hard not to upset anyone, not even the Mongols/Tatars, the go-to baddies of Russian culture.

In the age of HD mobile phone cameras, TikTok and filters though, even the 10 minutes required of the viewer seem like a push, Unless you're really into Rimsky-Korsakov, because the music is beautiful.
5/10
Andrew Hannaford
Andrew Hannaford
Too Short But Quite Sweet
As a big fan of Rimsky-Korsakov, the music really helped to shape the mood of the characterful story for me.
My only complaints would be in it's too short length: not only are we unable to hear much of Rimsky-Korsakov's 3 hour long "The Legend of The Invisible City of Kitezh" (well okay the whole opera might be a bit much for a light hearted animation, but 10 minutes barely sets the scene) but also, the plot of this short is not necessary the most obvious...This being said, the 10 minutes gives you brilliant colourful animation, and imaginative cinematography that overpowers the limitations of stop motion to create an emotive and immersive watch.
6/10
Awards and Festivals
1971
Award Laurel
Winner
Best Animated Film
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic
1972
Award Laurel
Best Film
Animafest Zagreb, Croatia
1972
Award Laurel
Winner
Best Animated Film
All-Union Film Festival, Tbilisi
1973
Award Laurel
Best Film
International Festival of Animated Films, New York
Cast and Crew