WATCH NIKOLAI GOGOL’S CLASSIC STORY, “THE NOSE,” ANIMATED WITH THE ASTONISHING PINSCREEN TECHNIQUE (1963)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Nose is a satirical short story by Nikolai Gogol. Written between 1835 and 1836, it tells of a St. Petersburg official whose nose leaves his face and develops a life of its own.

In A History of Russian Literature, the critic D.S. Mirsky writes: “The Nose is a piece of sheer play, almost sheer nonsense. In it more than anywhere else Gogol displays his extraordinary magic power of making great comic art out of nothing.”

Dmitri Shostakovich’s opera The Nose, first performed in 1930, is based on this story. A short film based on the story (below) was made by Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker in 1963 and used pinscreen animation.



Alexandre Alexeieff (1901-1982) was a Russian Empire-born artist, filmmaker and illustrator who lived and worked mainly in Paris. He and his second wife Claire Parker (1906-1981) are credited with inventing the pinscreen as well as the animation technique totalization. In all Alexeieff produced 6 films on the pinscreen, 41 advertising films and illustrated 41 books.

Pinscreen animation makes use of a screen filled with movable pins, which can be moved in or out by pressing an object onto the screen. The screen is lit from the side so that the pins cast shadows. The technique has been used to create animated films with a range of textural effects difficult to achieve with any other animation technique, including traditional cel (celluloid) animation.

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