November 14th, 2010

drawing, old man

Early Russian cartoon: The Returned Sun (1936)

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.
drawing, old man

The new "Cheburashka"...

...has its Moscow premiere at the 44th Festival of Japanese Film on Nov. 14 at 15:10. I earlier wrote about this film in 2009. Cheburashka became hugely popular in Japan since 2001, when the original Soviet short films were shown in two small Tokyo cinemas and were seen by over 10,000 people. And that provided the impetus for this Japanese/Korean/Russian/Belarus coproduction (the storyboards were made by a Russian/Belarusian team).

Although now, they say that it's not a feature film but 3 episodes which are 80 minutes in length altogether. The original Cheburashka films, with English subtitles, can be found here.

More details and pictures (in Russian) here.

Meanwhile, here's a making-of video that was released on November 11:

I can't stand the autotuned music in this clip, personally, but I'm surprised at the degree to which the East Asian team tried to stay authentic to the original look.
drawing, old man

Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema

If you happen to live in southern Ontario, Canada, I encourage you to come to the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. The festival schedule is here (it's from Nov. 18-21).

Especially relevant for those with an interest in Russian/Soviet animation is Saturday. At 15:30 there will be a screening of Garri Bardin's new animated feature The Ugly Duckling, and there will be a talk with the director after.

Before that, at 13:00, will be a screening of Daredevils of Sasun, the first-ever animated feature from Armenia, which they've been working on for 9 years. (!)

And at 10:00 in the morning, there will be the new feature by Czech master Jiří Barta, In the Attic.

Lots of other great animated features there as well, from all sorts of countries. :)