May 20th, 2010

drawing, old man

The Last Battle (Kievnauchfilm, 1989)

Well, here is one funny film that is definitely a product of its era. I cannot imagine it getting approved at any time other than the late Soviet "glasnost/perestroika" period. Even in the United States today, a film which so obviously makes fun of the military may be too controversial to get made by a major studio. After a nightmare, a former general decides to get rid of his roach problem... but finds a use for the roaches, instead.

It was directed by Aleksandr Viken, who started working at the studio as an animator in 1969, directed 8 films from 1981-1992, then went to the studio Borisfen-S to work as an animator again (a great many talented people lost their professions when the country fell apart).

This film is made in the recognizable Kievnauchfilm style which was popularized by director David Cherkasskiy and imitated by many of his colleagues, although the yellow-black coloring scheme is complex and unusual.

Due to popular request, both English and Russian subtitles are available (if they don't show, click on the triangle in the bottom right and turn on CC)

drawing, old man

Captain Pronin: the most hardcore action hero ever

Shortly after its independence, Russia was suddenly flooded by 1980s Western action movies. A group of young animators at "Ecran/Soyuztelefilm" studio took it upon themselves to lampoon this film genre. The result is Captain Pronin, an action hero so hardcore that he wears a gun to bed and walks unscathed out of burning buildings.

A series of four films was directed by Mikhail Zaytsev. It was his first time as director (apart from a 37-second anti-AIDS PSA made two years earlier). I have here added English subtitles to the first two films (#1 also has Russian subtitles, if you select them). They're not masterpieces, but representative of the era and pretty funny.

"Captain Pronin - Major Pronin's Grandson" (1992)

(if you're wondering who Major Pronin is, he starred in several James Bond-like books written from 1939-1962 by Soviet writer Lev Ovalov. There's a Russian-language Wikipedia article about him over here)

"Captain Pronin in America" (1993)

My favourite part of the second film might be its poke at Western gender equality (the wrestlers).

The last two films in the series were weirder and not as funny, in my opinion.

Here are the translated lyrics of the rather catchy song...

Captain Pronin: foe of lawless clans
Everyone knows him in foreign lands.
Russian Super! Captain Pronin
cracks the case, loves the chase. He's owning!

Captain Pronin - sleuthing ace. Even kids will tell you
He provides the highest class, super-detective.
Captain Pronin — superstar, no one doubts his value.
Day and night, for you and me, his unseen fight keeps us free!