Yozhik v tumane

  • Directors: Yuriy Norshteyn
  • Producers: Soyuzmultfilm
  • Writers: Sergei Kozlov
  • Genres: Animation, Short, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Mystery
  • Actors: Alexei Batalov, Maria Vinogradova, Vyacheslav Nevinniy

The main theme of the cartoon is the concept of Enlightenment and release from the yellow mist of civilization. [sic] This is a story about a little hedgehog (voiced by Mariya Vinogradova) and his friend bear cub (voiced by Vyacheslav Nevinniy). The two would meet every evening to drink tea from the cub’s samovar, which was heated on a fire of juniper twigs. As they drank their tea, the hedgehog and the bear conversed and counted the stars together. One day, the hedgehog decided to bring raspberry jam. As he went to the bear to count the stars, he passed through the woods and found a horse standing in a fog, where the hedgehog can’t even see his own pink paw. He is curious as to whether the horse would drown if it went to sleep in the fog. The hedgehog decides to explore the fog.

He finds himself in a strange world inhabited by many frightening creatures (eagle-owl, moths and bat) but also helpful and kind ones (the snail, the dog and the ‘somebody’ under water); that world of silence and rustles, of darkness, high grass and enchanting stars. The hedgehog hears the sound of the owl, which he called freak (Russian: псих). He is so frightened that it seems to him that the owl is very close. He is frightened, but his curiosity keeps him exploring the unknown. The characters Hedgehog and Bear Cub are very kind and friendly. In contrast, the eagle-owl is very hostile, being on the hunt and not taking care of the beauty of the surrounding world.

The hedgehog’s nightly walk through the woods to count the stars, drink tea and eat jam with his friend is such a habit he’s not even aware of the dangerous owl stalking him. Instead of paying attention, he thinks of the conversation he will have with his friend. He comes upon a beautiful horse standing in the fog. The sight stops his internal dialog and awakens his sense of wonder. His curiosity about what it might be like to experience a different reality leads him into the fog. He becomes a little afraid in this strange place and calls to the horse, but the horse does not answer him. He examines a oak leaf and a tree as though he has never seen them before. Realizing he has lost his jar of jam, a symbol of comfort and the familiar, his curiosity turns to fear, heightening his sense of danger to the point of being afraid of an obviously friendly dog who, miraculously, restores to him his jam. But someone called the dog with the whistle similar to the Beethoven’s V symphony. All the while, faintly in the distance, we hear his friend calling for him. Still frightened, even with his jam, the hedgehog runs blindly through the fog and falls into the river. After a short struggle, he relaxes, literally “goes with the flow”, accepts his fate and eventual death without fear. The horse watches him float by and does not attempt to help him. Suddenly, an unseen Someone touched his hind paw and asks, “Who are you and how did you get here?”, questions humans (and hedgehogs) have asked themselves for thousands of years. He answers truthfully and simply and his life is saved. He makes his way back to his ordinary world, a changed being. His friend talks and talks, but the hedgehog sit quiet on the right side, joyful at just being together with him again. He thinks of the horse, the symbol of the impersonal wonder, mystery and beauty of existence. This is a story of how to live fully; by being in the “now” and being aware of the world and ourselves as we truly are. “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” ~ Frederick Buechner

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