Review – Polina – Bastien Vives
Bastien Vives (author, artist)
Release date(s): March 9th 2011 by Casterman, April 10th 2014 by Fibra (reviewed) – available @ www.fibra.hr
Fibra, format (200 pages, HC, color, Croatian), 100 HRK (approx. 13,5 EUR)
Synopsis: As a very young girl, Polina Oulinov is taken on as a special pupil by the famous ballet teacher Professor Bojinsky. He is very demanding and refuses to adapt his standards to the talents of his pupils, and Polina has to work hard and make great sacrifices in order to reach the level Bojinsky senses she has the talent for. When she graduates and is admitted to the official theater school, she discovers that Bojinsky’s view of ballet is only one of many and that she can’t adapt to new rules, new visions. Brilliantly drawn, this moving and intimate story of self-discovery confirms Bastien Vivès as one of the most exciting talents at work in the graphic novel field today.
I recently purchased this graphic novel, because it is a part of the edition by Fibra, which I am collecting. If it wasn’t a part of that, I gotta be sincere, as a 30+ male, I would never have purchased it because I was judging this graphic novel by its cover. Pink and ballet, not my cup of tea. And that would be a damn shame.
If you read the synopsis above, I can not add to much to the story without ruining it to you if you are planning to read it. Story works out well, we follow Polina on her road,as she is learning, failing, trying, falling in love, making sacrifices. Bastien Vives did a fine job regarding the storytelling part. He questions the talent, hard work and every artist’s motivation in a very interesting way. But the drawing is something different. Minimalist, almost sketch-like art, with white, black and shades of grey. It is this minimalism that makes the art great, with the concentration on the movement, ignoring the background at times, shifting the focus on the beauty and elegance of the movement. Interesting thing about Bastien Vives’s drawing is that he is doing it completely digital. This is simple, elegant and wonderfully expressive.
Pros: phenomenal elegant art, good connection between the story and the art
Cons: fast-forward moment at some occasions may bother some readers, drawing style is not for everyone
Conclusion: The graphic novel didn’t make me a ballet fan, but made a Bastien Vives fan for sure! If you like to go for something different and new, this is a good choice. Professor Bojinsky tells Polina: ”You have to know why you dance”, making the statement for every work everyone does, you have to know why.