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Under Yesteryear's Snowfall (1983), Deep Blue Sea, Light White Foam (1984), and some others

Under Yesteryear's Snowfall (1983), Deep Blue Sea, Light White Foam (1984), and some others

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drawing, old man
The film known as Падал прошлогодний снег is a cult classic of Russian animation made in 1983 by Aleksandr Tatarskiy. It became very popular soon after its release, and was also critically successful; it was Tatarskiy's first to be accepted into an international film festival, where it won a medal (Varna '83; for more about that story, read the "Land!" chapter of the director's 1986 essay).

With nearly 300 Russian animated film translations in existence, why hadn't someone attempted a translation of it? Simply, it's one of those notoriously difficult texts that depends so much on wordplay and expressions specific to the Russian language. So it was my joy to discover a few days ago that axmxz (who has done a lot to help me on translating a few films, but had never done a project of her own) has completed a wonderful translation of it. As far back as March 4, 2008, axmxz had sent me a message saying that her dream was to translate this movie. It took a while, but the end result is worth it! She really had a lot of fun with it, and the result is very much in the spirit of the film (quote from the translator: "Way more fun to translate cartoons than patent papers about nuclear waste management..." I love that!)

axmxz chose to translate the title as "Under Yesteryear's Snowfall". Another translation that you may have seen is "Last Year's Snow Was Falling".

(to turn on the subtitles, click on CC in the lower-right corner):



The subtitle file can be downloaded here (UPD: link updated to 2011-02-13 version of subtitles). Actually, there was also an earlier translation made in September by neo1024 which I had missed. You can download that one here (nobody has uploaded it to a video site yet).

Some personal thoughts: It seemed to me when I first saw it (and still kind of does) that the logical place for the film to end would have been at the halfway point, and everything after that was made because Tatarskiy just couldn't let go of his character. The film has a few major themes. One of them is that it's not good to be too greedy. Another one is that fairy tales rarely tell the whole truth. The narrator is constantly trying to turn what's happening on the screen into a moral, and sometimes succeeds, but the main character refuses to stop living just because the "point" has already been made. And the wacky fairy tale turns decidedly sober at the end, with the poor protagonist being hugged by the crow who had been bothering him the whole time. Have fun while you're alive, the film seems to say, but don't forget what it means to be human.

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The next film, is no less of a classic. "Deep Blue Sea, Light White Foam" was made in 1984 by Robert Saakyants at Armenfilm, and is part of a loosely-connected series of films by him featuring similar characters (for the others, see here). Garri Bardin (also an animation director) voices the underwater king. Pretty much every Russian must have seen this.

The translation is by krairimvelify, and the subtitles can be downloaded here. They have some grammar errors, but aside from that, the translation is quite good and the song lyrics rhyme.


This film was also translated earlier by sergeykr1 (I can't tell the date), but the translation of the song is rather poor.

I think that the underwater king at the beginning was about to say the name of a certain other magician, from Saakyants' "Wow, A Talking Fish" (translated here by xenger):

(another translation is available by krairimvelify, but I like this one better)

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Anyway, that's all for now! Sorry for the long absence. For a full history of new translations, you can keep tabs on the revision history of the Animatsiya Wiki page, which is more frequently updated. You can even subscribe to an RSS feed of it.

Also, check out the new cartoon Papercutting by Belarusian director Mikhail Tumelya. I helped out with the subtitles a tiny bit.


  • (Anonymous)
    Link for Armenfilm subtitles got mangled.

    This is the correct one:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?949ykiwv9po51i6
  • claim insurance

    (Anonymous)
    Thanks for this video…I have been brain storming for something just like this and thanks to you I have what I was looking for and not all those spam looking links that make you want to click them just to see what they lead too…my pet peave.
  • (Anonymous)
    Браво, вас посетила отличная мысль
  • By any chance: did you also get harassed by Funtik Entertainment?
  • What a lark to have come across your blog! I was brought up in Russia (Soviet Union) and I am...should I say in love?...with so many of our old cartoons! This blog is such a great way to introduce western audiences to Russian animation.

    Have you done an entry about "Тайна третьей планеты" (Mystery of the Third Planet)? I couldn't find it on your blog.

    By the way, I am more than willing to do some translations too :-)
    • Hello! I really should be updating this journal more frequently, but some academic work as well as that whole thing with Youtube/Funtik really distracted me for the past year.

      I haven't written about "Third Planet" yet, but there should be a link to a translation of it at http://editthis.info/animatsiya/Main_Page
      You're free to do some translations too, of course! Check this list to make sure it hasn't been done already.
      • Are you also writing about Russian animation on the Wikipedia? I think I can recognize your writing style :-)

        As for "Тайна третьей планеты", I have tried to watch the subtitled version but the Youtube page returns: "This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated"...:-(

        I have seen a few other subtitled versions but the translation usually leaves best to be desired...
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