Features and Columns · Movies

How ‘Hedgehog in the Fog’ Used Allegory to Critique the USSR

“In the evenings, the little Hedgehog went to the Bear Cub to count stars…”
Hedgehog In The Fog
By  · Published on August 18th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores how Hedgehog in the Fog perfected an ambiance of haunting nostalgia.

Some of you may be familiar with the broad strokes of Soviet Animation. Maybe you went to film school and got really into Soyuzmultfilm. Maybe you grew up watching the likes of The Scarlet Flower and Cipollino, the Onion Boy. Or maybe you’re just a dirty little film rat that gobbles up historical tidbits like discarded cheese (this is me, if you’re curious).

Whatever the case may be, I find that specificity is especially helpful when you’re diving into an unfamiliar or cloudy part of cinema history. Enter Yuri Norstein, a Russian filmmaker who has produced some of the finest pieces of animated art from behind the Iron Curtain. Frequently working alongside his wife/artistic collaborator Francheska Yarbusova, Norstein has been rightly hailed as one of the finest animators to ever grace the screen. Smuggling anti-establishment messaging into monuments of artistry and perfectionism, Norstein has completed seven films (with an eighth, an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat still in progress after over 40 years). And within that stupendous filmography, today we’re going to focus on one entry: 1975’s Hedgehog in the Fog.

Achieving a simultaneously dreamlike and pseudo-realistic aesthetic through the painstaking use of multiplane camerasHedgehog in the Fog is a categorical masterpiece in how to use allegory to skirt censorship. Learn from Yuri: if you want to critique the powers that be without getting found out, use cute animals. Works every (most) of the time.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Hedgehog in the Fog clocks in at a brisk, spellbinding 10.5 minutes. I would highly recommend doing some hunting and watching it before hitting play on the video essay below (which you should also do, obviously).

Watch “Hedgehog In The Fog — Perfecting Haunting Nostalgia”

Who made this?

This video essay on the haunting nostalgia of Hedgehog in the Fog is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of movies, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.