A Glimpse in to Animated Soviet Propaganda: Onward to the Shining Future (Commemoration)

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 final installment, 5 preferentially descending films monumentalizing the USSR: Songs of the Years of Fire, A Hot Stone, Little Music Box, War Chronicles and Victorious Destination.

Pesni ognennyh let (Songs of the Years of Fire)
Inessa Kovalevskaya, 1971
An aggressively energetic verve and stirring emotional core set this patriotic powerhouse apart. Recalling Walt Disney's Fantasia it puts to dynamic animation - predominantly hued in bold reds and yellows to evoke the Soviet flag - popular wartime music ranging from invigorating marches to romantic laments for the brave fallen. Watch Songs of the Years of Fire.

Goryachiń≠ kamen' (A Hot Stone)
Perch Sarkissian, 1965
Offered an opportunity to reclaim his youth and live again for the completion of a suspiciously pseudo-Sisyphean task, an old man decides he's happy with the life he lived for he was lucky enough to be a part of the Bolshevik Revolution and to have a hand in upholding the resulting Soviet Union against capitalism. From Arkady Gaidar's short story "The Hot Stone", this nicely drawn piece seems to quietly realize 'neath its furrowed brow the USSR's glory days are behind, but calmly takes the stance that those days shan't be traded for even the greatest treasure. A creative highlight comes in the form of an amorphous red shape - presumably a war-tattered flag - as it reshapes itself again and again to present the strength of the people of the Revolution. The Millionaire's Yuri Prytkov takes an assistant credit. Watch A Hot Stone.

Organchik (Little Music Box)
Nikolai Khodataev, 1933
An extremely funny satire of pre-Soviet, tsarist Russia notable for being shelved per Stalin regime command along with anything related to the work of writer Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, a chapter of whose novel "Story of One Town" this piece is based upon, and subsequently driving Khodataev to call it quits after only one more film. A self-involved Tsar appoints a new general to Dummy-Town using the sole criterium, "whomever is louder". The general is equipped with the titular item, said to "replace all human reasoning", thereby aiding the execution of his celebrated duties which include "wearing dress uniform", "zealously eliminating free-thinking" and "fundamentally destroying any ordinary person for the benefit of the treasury". Features a dance sequence choreographed by Olga Khodatayeva. Watch Little Music Box.

Boyeviye Stranitsiy (War Chronicles)
Dmitry Babichenko, 1939
What begins an obscenely overt lambaste of the USSR's enemies inventively animated against a background of cigarette smoke rings becomes an amusing and nearly rousing memorial to the brave Soviets who fought those enemies before posing an unusually vindictive threat before the close. Again, when the Soviets are the direct focus, red is the powerfully predominant color. Watch War Chronicles.

Pobednyń≠ marshrut (Victorious Destination)
Leonid Amalrik, Dmitry Babichenko & Viktor Pokolnikov, 1939
Simple metaphors and even simpler diminishings of the Bolsheviks' naysayers chart Stalin's first three "Five Year Plans", which saw the abolishment of NEP but included the expunging of countless (non-collectivist) farmers in favor of industry - an ode similarly optimistic to but oppositely conducted from Plus Electrification, which predicts a cooperative future (not unlike one imaginable based upon Results of a XII Party Congress of Cooperation's urgings) beneficial to all Soviets as per Lenin's relevant quote - rendering a final shot of Lenin's notoriously inspiring pose distasteful. Relatively vague as the 1972 Plus Electrification is, however, I suppose it could be taken either way. As with other Stalinism-centric posters, Victorious Destination is subjectively reprehensible. Then, objectively, it does a vastly superior job than Someone Else's Voice in villainizing its antagonists (not a seemingly difficult task, as said antagonists are here painted as barbarous dimwits with capitalist leanings), and at least the distinctive Soviet design (a favorite of Babichenko's, it would seem) is aesthetically appealing. Watch Victorious Destination.

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