2.12.2011

A Glimpse in to Animated Soviet Propaganda: Fascist Barbarians (Condemnation)

I am no historian, merely an individual intrigued by specific aspects of history. I have begun some modicum of self-education on the broad subject of the Soviet Union as seen through propaganda films, and with the assistance of a generous Soyuzmultfilm Studios collection I present to you an introduction to the animated variety. This installment, 6 preferentially descending films execrating the the Third Reich: Attention! Wolves!, The Pioneer's Violin, A Lesson Not Learned, Cinema CircusA Journal of Political Satire No. 2 and Vultures.



Vnimanie! Volki! (Attention! Wolves!)
Yefim Gamburg, 1970
These anti-Nazi films are rather candid, which means less of my interpretations for your reading mind to suffer through! Attention! Wolves! is a bit more complex an allegory, though. Nightmarish interlacing of a vocal ensemble and portraiture of civilians against ruins introduces this likening of Nazis and Neo-Nazis to subservient, animalistic wolves based upon L. Lagin's story, "Blond Aryan Beast". A feral child is discovered by the National Democratic Party of Germany and groomed along with others into a deleterious soldier at a secret training camp. Nazi propaganda footage (here transposed as anti-Nazi propaganda) and photography joins animation to create a genuinely startling deprecation of German revanchism. Watch Attention! Wolves!.



Skripka pionera (The Pioneer's Violin)
Boris Stepantsev, 1971
This powerfully heavy-handed reaction to feared German revanchism equates Nazi morale with genocide. Lovingly animated, it presents a pastoral USSR countryside, its unwarranted bombing and sole survivor - a boy violinist (a "pioneer" - essentially a boy scout). The atramentous post-disaster's only light is fire. The boy is stalked and cornered by a heedless soldier airily demanding a German song. Defiant, the martyrly patriot starts in with the Soviet national anthem only to be met with a rain of bullets. Watch The Pioneer's Violin.



Urok ne vprok (A Lesson Not Learned)
Valentin Karavaev, 1971
Jocularly drawn against black and white photography, a cowardly Nazi escapes defeat in WWII seeking sanctuary on American shores. While reading a copy of "Mein Kampf" appropriately concealed within a bible's binding he is visited by Hitler's figurative ghost (the dictator's characterization taken as read). He conceives a Third Reich revival (Fourth Reich?) and storms toward revenge... and runs headlong into the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart, the Berlin Wall. Not so much a paranoid presage of German revanchism as a lampoon of post-treaty attempts at such a thing. Watch A Lesson Not Learned.



Kino-tsirk (Cinema Circus)
Leonid Amalrik & Olga Khodatayeva, 1942
This triptych's base is less in branding Hitler with legendary avarice and diplomatic incompetence than it is in simply making him out as a buffoon. The proceedings are hosted by a Charlie Chaplin-looking figure apparently modeled after famed USSR clown Karandash. Watch Cinema Circus.



Zhurnal politsatiry No. 2 (A Journal of Political Satire No. 2)
Valentina & Zinaida Brumberg; Alexander Ivanov; Olga Khodatayeva; Ivan Ivanov-Vano
A newsreel in four parts known as"posters". Watch A Journal of Political Satire No. 2.

1. What Hitler Wants
In an scheme familiar to anyone who's seen a contemporary political "attack ad", this list accuses an impish, hatchet-wielding Hitler of "wants" either presented in their worst-case scenarios and finishes with an ardent call to arms against fascism.


2. Beat the Fascist Pirates
A dull cartoon showing U-Boats (portrayed as shark-like sea creatures) being destroyed by the valiant Soviet Navy.


3. Strike the Enemy on the Front Lines and at Home!
In what is almost a Soviet version of McCarthyism, this reel warns that fascists are sneaking about amongst innocent Soviet societies and, according to this, burning hay bales and clipping electrical wires. Be attentive! Report your suspicions!


4. A Mighty Handshake
An announcement of the USSR's alliance with Capitalist England. The respective countries are personified by giant soldiers standing on a map with Hitler - again impish and hatchet-wielding - caught in the middle, helplessly hurling bombs atop a pile of skulls before being crushed between the soldiers' handshake. I do wonder what the hatchet signifies, if anything beyond a savage instrument of violence.



Stervyatniki (Vultures)
Panteleimon P. Sazonov, 1941
A simplistic rally cry in which Nazi bombers are delineated as unsavory birds of prey before Red Air Force fighters destroy them. Not dissimilar to American WWII cartoons. Watch Vultures.

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