It’s a form of “destructive animation.” Each image exists only long enough to be photographed and then painted over to create a sense of movement. It’s a process that sometimes makes Dumala sad. “I think sometimes when I do a drawing in my film, I want to keep it,” he told Melissa Chimovitz of Animation World Network in 1997, “but I must destroy it because this is the technique I use. I must destroy every frame to put in its place another one, the next one, to have movement. This way, sometimes I think it is too much suffering, to destroy all the time what I am doing.”
A fascinating take on the story, I think it'd be helpful to have read the book. My only read of the book was years ago, and the details have escaped me. The film itself is darkly beautiful.
Animation World Magazine quotes the director:
"People wanted a standard adaptation. People expect to see what they read in the book. This is something else so they feel cheated. It was not my aim to copy the book. I was really close to the book. I took one level of the book. It's not possible to show everything from this book. I got what I wanted." Dumala's film takes only the main plots: the killings and meeting Sonia. This is not a tale of evil or the like in St. Petersburg. "This is about love and how obsession can destroy love. In our life we are under two opposite influences to be good or bad and to love or hate."