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Friday, July 2, 2010

The Stonecutter

The Stonecutter is either an ancient Japanese folktale or a Dutch fairytale incorporated into Japanese lore in the 16th century. Though it's origin is disputed, The Stonecutter remains a powerful moral story about accepting your talents and your flaws; bettering yourself while still being yourself.

I was introduced to this story as a child by animator Gerald McDermott, and its message has always stuck with me. Somehow as a child in the 80's I found myself in the possession of a tape of The Stonecutter and another of McDermott's shorts, Anansi the Spider, based on African folklore and watched both constantly, even though I was kind of terrified of them. What can I say? Kids are weird.

Anyway, McDermott created his interpretation of The Stonecutter in 1960 while a student at Pratt, mixing contemporary techniques and inspiration from fine artists like Paul Klee. The result is a visually striking, original piece that's also completely harmonious with the decade in which it was created. The score is also fantastic, though uncredited. If you've got 6 minutes, I highly suggest you check it out!

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