2.14.2011

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

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 aimed to commove comrades of the Motherland: We Can Do It, Vasilyok, Tale of a Toy, The Adventures of the Young Pioneers, To You Moscow and Fascist Jackboots Shall Not Trample Our Motherland.



Eto v nashih silah (We Can Do It)
Lev Atamanov, 1970
People the world over are terrorized by a colossal black bird borne of fascism and capitalism. Common acts of love and art (including formerly outlawed jazz) create doves of peace vastly more powerful than the monster's evil and all is once again well. The message, apart from the barefaced, is seemingly to perseverance in peace (and, but not necessarily, Communism) is to bestow auspice worldwide. By the way, that typewriter shot below? Stephen J. Cannell, anyone? Watch We Can Do It.



Vasilyok
Stella Aristakesova, 1973
Vasilyok is a boy growing up in an idyllically Monet/Seurat-like agrarian village sprung up from the ruins of war. His grandfather never returned from WWII, but a premature comprehension of death leads the boy on a journey to find his lost relative. He discovers a battleship bearing his grandfather's name - a subtle exhortation that service to the Soviet Union rewards virtual immortality - and captains it home to his grieving grandmother. Part cutesy emotional commemoration, part emboldening recruiting tool, all bright and appealing. Watch Vasilyok.



Istoriya odnoń≠ kukly (Tale of a Toy)
Boris Ablynin, 1984
I will confess to this one's inaccessibly formalist bookends going over my head a bit. From what I gather in the blend of animation and live action's midsection, a Don Quixote puppet it constructed and brought to battle Quixote's infamous windmill, here with sails in the shape of a swastika. The puppet maker is executed by an S.S. officer, but the puppet lives on to conquer the windmill. You can kill the flesh, but you cannot kill the idea. Watch Tale of a Toy.



Priklyucheniya yunyh pionerov (The Adventures of the Young Pioneers)
Vladimir Pekar, 1971
Resourceful Pioneers (essentially Red Boy Scouts) resist occupation of what appears to be Moscow (if only for the Kremlin backdrop) from dim Nazis intent on burning books and lining their pockets. It is difficult to gauge this one's significance as propaganda, considering its date and its inapplicability to German revanchism paranoia. If anything, this Tom & Jerry-esque escapade is stating that any citizen great or small upholding the valor of the Soviet Union, even if only in spirit, will be met with equal return from the Union itself. Watch The Adventures of the Young Pioneers.



Chtoby tebe Moskvu (To You Moscow)
Grigory Lomidze, 1947
As in any country's own history books, here Russia is gloriously painted against all comers with the then-800-year-old Moscow, "The Great City of Lenin", as its beating heart. Notable leaders are traditionally honored while commonfolk and enemies are suggested through animals - dutiful horses in old wartime, meek puppies 'neath the Provisional Government and suffocative ravens at the dawn of WWII. A love letter to the capital indeed, To You Moscow also functions as a quickie review of Russian history. Watch To You Moscow.



Ne molmam Fashistskie sapogi Nasha Rodina
(Fascist Jackboots Shall Not Trample Our Motherland)
Alexander Ivanov & Ivan Ivanov-Vano, 1941
The use of the song "Our Armor is Strong and Our Tanks are Fast" (performed by the Alexandrov Ensemble) renders this otherwise basic "poster" of a literally hoggish Hitler clomping across Europe leaving fire in his treads and falling victim to the mighty USSR a successfully morale-boosting affair. Watch Fascist Jackboots Shall Not Trample Our Motherland.

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