Soviet Film Wednesday: Bashō

Winter Days Poster

“Bashō” was animated by Soviet-born artist Yuri Norstein (revered director of Seasons, Hedgehog in the Fog, and Tale of Tales) using cut-out animation. It is a segment of the film Winter Days (originally 冬の日 Fuyu no Hi), which is a collage of animated short films comprised of mostly Japanese pieces, directed by Kihachirō Kawamoto.

Winter Days

Winter Days is based on a renku (writing formed from collaborative linked poetry) from a 1684 poetry collection by the Japanese writer Matsuo Bashō. In following the renku tradition, the film Winter Days is made of 36 segments depicting winter days in Japan, animated by 35 different artists.

Winter Days

Yuri Norstein himself narrated the opening poetry reading in his tribute to “Bashō.” After the reading, we see a man named Chikusai wandering through the forest in tattered clothes, where he encounters the writer Bashō cleaning his coat, and is surprised to find that Bashō’s clothes are as worn as his.