11 April 2016

The North Wind and the Sun (きたかぜとたいよう, 1960)

The North Wind and the Sun (きたかぜとたいよう/ Kitakaze to Taiyō, 1960) is based on the story of the same name (北風と太陽) from Aesop's Fables (イソップ寓話).  The story focuses on a competition between the North Wind and the Sun to determine which of them is stronger.  They challenge each other to see which one of them can succeed in making a passing traveler remove his jacket.  The film was distributed in the United States by Coronet Instructional Films in 1962 under the title The North Wind and the Sun: An Aesop Fable

Many Gakken educational shorts use a traditional setting, but this one modernizes it by having the North Wind riding through the sky on a kind of scooter with a built-in wind machine.  The interior workings of the sun are beautifully rendered in a modern art style.  The technique used is stop motion animation using cut outs and flat puppets that are skilfully rendered.  After the North Wind fails to get the jacket off of the traveler, the sun’s rays bring not only warmth but springtime to the landscape.  The most lovely animation sequences are those of paper flowers opening.  The effects are simple but effective.  A very charming film overall.

This short animation was produced by Haruo Itoh (伊藤治雄) and directed by Kazuhiko Watanabe (渡辺和彦).  Although the tale has been adapted many times over the centuries in many different media, the only other animation I have seen of this tale is the NFB’s The North Wind and the Sun: A Fable By Aesop (Les Drew/Rhoda Leyer, 1972).  Like the Gakken animation, is very short and an educational film for children.  Both shorts modernize the setting, transforming the cloak of the original tale to a jacket.  The NFB film places a stronger emphasis on the moral: “Persuasion is better than force”.  Watch both the films below:


2016 Cathy Munroe Hotes