Friday, 5 October 2012

Soviet Propaganda Animation

Cinema Circus, 1942, L. Amalrik and O. Khodataeva, 3’36’’
One of a handful of animated short “political posters” that survived World War II, this one ridicules Hitler and his cronies. The master of ceremonies is a caricature of the USSR’s most famous clown, Karandash, whose name means pencil in Russian.

Someone Else’s Voice, 1949, I. Ivanov-Vano, 9’25’’
Written by Sergei Mihalkov, a popular children’s poet who also wrote the lyrics to the Soviet National Anthem. Jazz was an early victim of the Cold War, condemned as “an enemy of the people.” Still, whatever the official policy, jazz was popular in the USSR and was used in the score of many later propaganda shorts.
Ave Maria, 1972, I. Ivanov-Vano, 9’36’’
Also known as “Against American Aggression in Vietnam,” this film is as anti-war as anti-American and portrays the Church as an actively  malignant social influence.
Interplanetary Revolution , 1924. N. Khodataev Z. Komisarenko and Y. Merkulov, 7’49’’
Fervent Bolsheviks export the Revolution to Mars. When capitalists escaping Earth arrive on Mars, they find the comrades already there, having a party congress beneath a banner of Lenin.
The Millionaire, 1963, V. Bordzilovsky and Y. Prytkov, 9’54’’
Based on a poem for children by Sergei Mihalkov.
Shooting Range, 1979, V. Tarasov, 19’18’’
Tarasov, a fan of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” modeled the film’s hero on Holden Caulfield. An artist as well as an animation director, Tarasov combed through back issues of “America,” a magazine published by the U.S. government during the Cold War, and American comic books, to lovingly create the film’s fabulous New York City back drop. Based on a play by V. Slatkin.
( intermezzo )

We’ll Keep Our Eyes Peeled , 1927, N. Khodataev Group, 2’45’’
Britain’s foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, tries to sabotage development of the fledgling Soviet Union with a trade embargo. Defiant Soviets buy government bonds (obligazia) and a new industrial nation is born. Soviets were regularly forced to “save” the economy from ruin, or fight the war, by buying “obligazia.” Throughout the years, the State promised to redeem the bonds, but rarely did until the Gorbachev era, but even that government did not honor many. The obligatzia were printed on good paper and so beautiful some people used them as wallpaper.
Mister Twister, 1963, A. Karanovitch, 15’37’’
Based on the popular children’s poem written in 1933 by Samuel Marshak who is also credited with writing the script. During the USSR school children regularly memorized the Marshak poem. In 1920 he founded, one of the first children’s theaters in the Soviet Union, and wrote plays for it. Highly effective in persuading gifted writers and artists to write for children, he also headed the Children’s Section of the State Publishing house. During the years of the Stalin terror, the Section came under attack for its alleged bourgeois leanings. Members the group were accused of being associated with “Samuel Marshak, Enemy of the People.” They were interrogated, killed, and  sent to labor camps in Siberia and the Arctic.
To You Moscow, 1947, G. Lomidze, 17’39’’
An animated history of the city of Moscow, including the Nazi invasion, made to honor of the city’s 800th anniversary.
Samoyed Boy, 1928, V. and Z. Brumberg N. Khodataev and O. Khodataeva, 07’05’’
A classic Soviet animation and the first film for children. It was done in the tradition of the primitive paintings of the USSR’s Northern peoples (like Chukcha and Eskimos). It was the first Soviet film based on the culture of the Northern people.
Log Jam, 2008, Alexei Alexeev, 0’58’’
Not exactly Russian propaganda, more like Nickelodeon.  Just to end on a light note.

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