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Early Russian cartoon: The Returned Sun (1936)

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drawing, old man

Early Russian cartoon: The Returned Sun (1936)

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drawing, old man


Not a second of boredom in this, one of the very first cartoons made at Soyuzdetmultfilm studio (later renamed Soyuzmultfilm). Directed by Olga Khodatayeva in 1936, it shares themes with some of her other films, such as the 1928 "Samoyed Boy" (video link) and the 1944 "The Stolen Sun" (video link).

Unusually for cartoons made at the studio at this time, it doesn't attempt to imitate Disney wholesale, but seems to carry on the Soviet animation traditions from before the founding of the new central studio and the switch to cel animation. This is seen for example, in the wide selection of shading contours - such as white outlines. Another holdover from the pre-Soyuzmultfilm era that disappeared soon after is the reuse of animation (notice that several scenes actually loop a few times). This does create a nice structure, and gives the viewer a second chance to appreciate complicated scenes. Also, there is still some influence from the 1920s Soviet art style - i.e. the geometric shapes at 4:20.

Another interesting thing: at 2:46 and 7:45, you see some examples of the background moving instead of the character, in other words a tracking shot in animation. The first example of this in Hollywood was the 1935 Disney cartoon "Three Orphan Kittens".

P.S. The film is currently in the public domain, according to the Russian Ministry of Culture.
But according to Youtube, the audio is copyrighted by someone, which is why there's an advertisement added. Weird. Also, the Public Domain Movies blog picked this up. Thanks!


там, где вечьный снег и льдины,
там, где ночь длиннее лета.
в крае северных сияний
родилась легенда эта

эта песнь о храбром Итте,
возвратившем людям солнце.

зимний мрак окутал землю
и без солнечного света
всё живое замерзало...

...но охотник храбрый Иття
в путь отправился за солнцем...

там где солнце пробегало
и бросало искры жизни,
там подводные растения
превращялись в лес дремучий.

Where the snow falls everlasting,
Where the night commands three seasons,
Where auroras light the icebergs
In those lands was born this legend.

This song tells about brave Itte
who returned the sun to people.

Winter dark the earth enveloped,
And without the sun's light shining,
Everything alive was freezing...

...but a hunter, the brave Itte,
journeyed forth to bring the sun back...

Where the sun would run in passing,
And its sparks of life leave scattered,
There, the underwater seaweeds
Would transform to thickest forest.
  • The Kalevala meter. Interesting.
    • This meter is easier to use in Russian than in English. I'd go so far as to say that most types of poetry are easier and more natural in Russian. Which perhaps is why there are popular verse-novels there still.
  • забавно было по тем временам увидеть в титрах букву Х в виде свастики
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