If you have an extra ten minutes to spare today, you can spend that time no better than watching the lyrical short HERON AND CRANE (1974) by Russian animation genius Yuri Norstein.
Here is a bit of background about the film that I found online:
Norstein’s third feature is based on a Russian fairy tale. It marked the first of several collaborations among Norstein, his wife, the artist Francesca Yarbusova, and a cameraman Alexander Zhukovsky. To achieve Norstein’s artistic vision, they invented a special piece of equipment which allowed them to animate on layers of glass. Norstein’s original script was not approved by the studio administration. Veteran director Roman Kachanov was assigned to serve as project “supervisor” and write an acceptable script. Unbeknownst to the studio administration, Norstein filmed the original script. Thanks in great part to support from Fyodor Khitruk, Norstein’s HERON AND CRANE – with Norstein credited as co-writer – was approved for distribution after numerous additional clashes with the studio management. Very Popular in the former USSR , the film also won many honors abroad.
A dvd of Yuri Norstsein’s complete works can be purchased from RussianAnimation.com or Amazon. There’s also a fairly new book out about Norstein written by Clare Kitson – YURI NORSTEIN AND TALE OF TALES: AN ANIMATOR’S JOURNEY – which I’ve heard good things about.