Jiří Barta YUKI ONNA
Jiří Barta, author of internationally acknowledged animated films, such as The Pied Piper, The Vanished World of Gloves, The Club of the Laid Off, The Last Theft or In the Attic, is introducing a new film, new topic and, as is common for this author, a completely new artistic vision.
YUKI ONNA, a short animated film, treats the classic motive of a Japanese legend using the technology of wax animation.
As an artist, Jiří Barta is known for not stepping twice in the same river. With every new film, he changes the topic completely, as well as the artistic treatment. Despite not repeating the same technique twice, his work has always carried the strong stamp of his individuality, according to which you can recognize the author in his work.
This is also the case of YUKI ONNA (Snow Woman). This is a classical Japanese legend, created by Lafkadio Hearn, a Greek-Irish writer, who had lived and written in the Empire of Japan since 1880.
His collection of short stories, Kwaidan, is as widely known in Japan as Karel Jaromír Erben’s "The buquet" in our country. YUKI ONNA is a legend of a Snow Woman, whom a young boy Minokichi meets deep in the mountains under tragic circumstances. His friend Mosaku freezes to death, but the Snow Woman spares Minokichi’s life, under the condition that he won’t tell anyone.
After this event, the boy moves to the city of Yokohama. Later he marries a beautiful woman, whose beauty does not change with time, despite everyone else around her ageing. But the horrible memory keeps returning to Minokichi’s mind, and as he wants to share it, he tells the story to his wife. In this way, he breaks his pledge of secrecy and finds out that his wife is in fact YUKI ONNA. He is punished and vanishes in a whirl of passing time.
Besides its narrative side, the story has a strong philosophic depth, mainly as far as the responsibility for a pledge is concerned, as well as the theme of time passing and new beginnings. Its fame, mainly in Japan, allowed Jiří Barta, as a screen-writer and artist, to have free hands in his artistic rendering; the only limitation being time and budget constraints. That is why Barta focuses mainly on the emotion side: he uses expressive art and music to gently draw a well-known story, while giving space to the viewer for reflection...
Proto se Barta ve svém filmovém vyprávění věnuje především emoční rovině: pomocí expresívního výtvarna a hudby ojedinělým způsobem jemně naznačuje známý příběh, aby hned v druhé rovině dával divákovi prostor k zamyšlení...
YUKI ONNA - shooting of real actions.
The film is unique not only in its contents, but also in its artistic treatment. During the one and a half years of making of the film, the author has used almost all kinds of animation: Japanese actors dressed in period costumes are shot using the method of pixilation. Many shots are redrawn. The background is mainly fictitious landscape (similar to Karel Zeman’s films). Some details are highlighted by rotoscoping. Individual segments of such images are then projected on wax sheets, which are further animated, so that their movement dynamizes the original image. Semi-transparent wax connects various art characteristics of used segments, making the final image look natural and harmonic. It has its unique atmosphere, changing according to the narrative.
Michal Novinski, author of music.
The music was composed and recorded by internationally renowned author Michal Novinski, author of the music for “KOOKY”. He himself admits that he has consented to work on the film after the first projection of the then silent film. He claims that the music was already in the movie, he has heard it during the first projection, so it was rather easy to work on this assignment. Just in the opening scene he used Dvořák’s music: since he believes that a hope for a new beginning cannot be better expressed in musical terms than by Dvořák’s symphony “From the New World”.
The work on the project began in 2009 in the Animation People studio in Prague by trying the characteristics of wax sheets. Various materials have been tested, especially for their optical diffusion and possibility of forming them during individual animation phases. Development of a similar kind is always very demanding in terms of time and resources. Despite an artist’s vision, the goal as well as the course is never known in advance. After roughly half a year of tests, the results were so convincing that the Japanese producer has released funds for the realization and in autumn 2009 preparation works began.
Wax animation – shooting.
Actors’ scenes were shot in the Animation People studio in January and February 2010. Then off line editing was performed, as well as the first shot composition. According to this composition, background and foreground were re-drawn. Then the wax sheet animation was performed. Everything was again arranged into individual shots and rotoscoping began, being added as a layer to the whole animation. In the end, the author personally added special semi-transparent layers to every shot, in order to fine-tune the details and possible unbalances of individual compositions. These works, as well as the music, were finished in January 2011. Since then, technical works have been underway.
Author Jiří Barta working.
The original budget and deadline were exceeded, as is quite usual in works of similar character and value. That’s why the Czech side and the Fund for the Support and Development of Czech Cinematography contributed more to the project. Due to the Fund’s contribution, YUKI ONNA will be deposited in the National Film Archives.
is meant to be primarily a festival film. It is a film that is not connected with time and space, just as the majority of Barta’s films. It shall be distributed mainly in Japan, where Jiří Barta has his enthusiastic audience.
The film has been shown to foreign producers who visited the Animation People studio during the Teplice Anifest. They showed interest in it, so there may be other possibilities of its distribution abroad.
Czech audience will have to wait to see the film at home. It will first be projected during film festivals; and releasing a 15-minute film alone is not a standard procedure in Czech conditions.
About YUKI ONNA film:
Length: 14 minutes
Genre: artistic film
Story: Lafcadio Hearn
Storyboard: Jiří Barta
Design: Jiří Barta
Director: Jiří Barta
DOP: Ivan Vít
Producer: Toshiharu Manabe (@ARMZ)
Michal Podhradský (Animation People)
Animation: Michal Kubíček
Alfons Mensdorff - Pouilly
Kanako Nishioka - Koukalová
Editor: Alois Fišárek
Sound: Marek Hart
Music: Michal Novinski
Voices (CZ version):
Voices (EN version):
Warderobe: Kanako Nishioka
Masky: Dana Kohoutová
SFX: Michal Podhradský
Coproduction: @ARMZ Japonsko/Animation People Česká republika
Sound: English, Czech and Japan version
Carriers: film print 35mm (EN version)
DCP (EN a CZ version)
HD-cam (EN, CZ, JAP version)
making of / English version:
trailer / English version: