Mother Teresa is claimed by a number of countries. This is a statue from Skopje in Macedonia where she was born to Albanian parents, though if one goes to Tirana Airport, she is waiting at the entrance, and, of course, she is feted in Calcutta.
I have drawn her before in my film HOW TO BE BOSS. This won an award for Best Animation in 2012 and I sat up for 6 nights doing it. This summer, I managed 16 all-nighters to complete animation and sequences for the latest Lucy Worsley, which promises to be a treat… the “BOSS” film seems a long time ago now…
At the base of my picture of Mother Teresa in Tirana is a bust from elsewhere of the great Albanian hero who gives his name to the main square in Tirana. I will write something about Skanderbeg/ Skanderbek (variously spelt) whose 550th anniversary is this year.
This is a caricature that we did for the little animated film, “How to be Boss”.
Today, the little boy in the background is the Supreme leader of the Democratic People’s republic of Korea. The son of Kim Jong-il and grandson of the founder of modern North Korea, Kim il-Sung. He had been designated premier by the Soviet controllers and called “great leader”. One of his first plans as leader was to invade South Korea which the Soviets anyway regarded as his territory. With Chinese acquiescence, Kim went on to seize Seoul capturing most of the peninsular except for the “Pusan Perimeter”. The US landed in Incheon and mounted a vigorous counter-offensive together with troops from South Korea. Within a month, Seoul had been retaken and then Kim was forced into a major retreat and refuge in China. This led to a Chinese offensive in aid of the North Koreans and the retaking of Seoul in January 1951. The UN counter-attacked in March retaking Seoul. The war lingered on until 1953 with the loss of over 1.2 million lives. Kim resented China’s increasing control of the war as indeed he resented anyone with a strong alliance to any number of people with Chinese connections. The most bizarre of these was Enver Hoxha, the leader of Albania who had openly defied Russia and set up his own Sino-Albanian pact.
Enver Hoxha and “Following Edward Lear”
I remember seeing Hoxha’s pyramidal tomb in Tirana. We have been to Albania a few times for the Lear project. Edward Lear was there in 1848 at the end of his journey from Istanbul. As part of our Edward Lear film, we have drawn a view of the Albanian town of Elbassan.
Today, the view that Lear sketched is dominated by a huge Chinese-built factory which is really the only physical result of the Sino-Albanian pact, Hoxha’s alliance with Mao Zedong. Hoxha may not have been a nice man, and his secret police, the Sigurimi has a grim reputation, but he is impressive in the way that he stood up to Russia and lived to tell the tale. In truth, he was defending the indefensible- denouncing reforms by Khrushchev and the demolition of the Stalin cult. He was also, incidentally anxious about meetings that had taken place between the Russian president and Greek politicians who had been campaigning for an independent Northern Epirus. Khrushchev is supposed to have said of Hoxha: “He bared his fangs at us even more menacingly than the Chinese themselves.” To this comment went the response from a Spanish delegate at the conference to the effect that Hoxha is a dog that bites the hand that feeds it. Russian economic aid stopped but was replaced by considerable aid from China. In 1979, Hoxha responded to the resentment oozing out of North Korea. He said, “In Pyongyang, I believe that even Tito will be astonished at the proportions of the cult of his host, which has reached a level unheard of anywhere else, either in past or present times, let alone in a country which calls itself socialist.”
There is a rather funny video doing the rounds on Youtube. You can find it here-
Nasruddin was the figure in the Richard Williams film that I discovered in the early 70s. The film changed completely when it became the “Thief and the Cobbler” and the Nasruddin character disappeared. There are various stories about why this happened. Last Sunday Williams simply said that the original story and the original character did not work. Nasruddin, however, is still visible in a crowd scene riding on his donkey (which he rides backwards)… here are some drawings of statues in Turkey- one faintly comic and the other more respectful. He was a real character but he used humour and his stories are laced with unexpected incident and comment. however, Nasruddin turns up in Turkish legend as Nasreddin Hoja and then again in Albanian as Nastrudin Hoxha. I don’t know whether it is more appropriate to see Nasrudin as Turkish or Iranian: the oldest manuscript from 1571 suggests he was Turkish or active in Turkey. When we made the first version of “A torture Cartoon”, it made sense to add a version of Nasruddin because Necati is Turkish
and then later when we did “how to be Boss” we did a new design and told one of the many Nasruddin stories. You can find the sequence at about 2.39: “Have you told your wife who is boss in your own house? Don’t worry. She knows!”
There is a Pappas illustrated edition of stories which I would love to see. Otherwise, the best editions are those illustrated by Williams himself and the spectacular Errol le Cain