Watch a Whimsical Animation of Italo Calvino’s Short Story “The Distance of the Moon”

“What was Ita­lo Calvi­no?,” asks sci-fi doyenne Ursu­la K. Le Guin in a Guardian review of the Ital­ian author’s col­lec­tion of short sto­ries Cos­mi­comics. “A pre­post­mod­ernist? Maybe it’s time to dis­pense with mod­ernism and all its pre­fix­es.” Calvi­no cer­tain­ly exists in a cat­e­go­ry all of his own. In short nov­els like Invis­i­ble Cities and his numer­ous sto­ry col­lec­tions, the “prepostmodernist”—or whatever—created a voice as won­drous and indi­vid­ual as his con­tem­po­rary, Borges. Calvi­no coined his own genre, which he called “Cos­mi­comics,” and which Le Guin describes as “a sub­species of sci­ence fic­tion [which] con­sists typ­i­cal­ly of the state­ment of a sci­en­tif­ic hypoth­e­sis (most­ly gen­uine, though some­times not cur­rent­ly accept­ed) which sets the stage for a nar­ra­tive, in which the nar­ra­tor is usu­al­ly a per­son called Qfwfq.”

One of the sto­ries from the col­lec­tion, “The Dis­tance of the Moon,” gets an ani­mat­ed treat­ment in the video above, scored by Erik Satie’s “Gnossi­enne No. 1.” The fan­tas­tic sto­ry, nar­rat­ed by the mys­te­ri­ous Qfwfq, also includes char­ac­ters like Cap­tain Vhd Vhd and Xlth­lx, and, like all of Calvino’s work, it com­bines a child-like won­der with his play­ful, myth­ic imag­i­na­tion and sci­en­tif­ic intel­li­gence. The ani­ma­tion, nar­rat­ed in Hebrew with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles, beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trates the strange whim­sy of the sto­ry with stop-motion cut-outs. And in the audio above, you can hear actor Liev Schreiber explain the sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ry behind Calvino’s sto­ry, then read the sto­ry itself. The read­ing took place at a live event host­ed by Radi­o­lab and orig­i­nal­ly aired on WNYC and PRI’s show “Select­ed Shorts.”

And if this leaves you desir­ing more ani­mat­ed Calvi­no, then don’t miss our pre­vi­ous post: John Tur­tur­ro Reads Ita­lo Calvino’s Ani­mat­ed Fairy Tale, The False Grand­moth­er.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Piotr Dumala’s Won­der­ful Ani­ma­tions of Lit­er­ary Works by Kaf­ka and Dos­to­evsky

Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Mas­ter and Mar­gari­ta, Ani­mat­ed in Two Min­utes

Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea Ani­mat­ed Not Once, But Twice

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.