Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Soviet Animation - Fantadrom 2 and Nu Pogodi! - You Just Wait! I'll Get You!

What's an alien to do when it needs to borrow a pinch of salt?

The answer is in Fantadrom episode 2, a classic Soviet-era science-fiction animation from the early 80s. The first episode is also viewable in my earlier blog posting.

You might notice that in the film text is sometimes displayed in Russian Cyrillic and in Latin script. The English-like letters are Latvian; Fantadrom was created in a Riga animation studio. Nonetheless, Russian was the language most often spoken in public and used for business in the USSR, and spoken dialogue is always Russian.

The Internet has certainly promoted the study of English in Armenia, where I used to live, and in other former-Soviet countries, but Russian is still taught in Armenian schools, and no responsible parent would ever allow their children not to learn it.

Like so many Soviet-era cartoons, Fantadrom is playful, silly, and sometimes very surreal. Many Soviet animators were greatly influenced by the Beatles' animated film The Yellow Submarine as well as the psychedelic artwork of Peter Max.

Fantadrom 2

Nu Pogodi!

And here is a sample of the much more rough-and-tumble Nu Pogodi (You Just Wait, I'll Get You!), with the scruffy, cigarette-smoking wolf always after the cute, innocent hare. Like all good villains, the wolf is by far more interesting than his victim, and you can get some good glimpses of daily Soviet life from these cartoons, like the electric trolley-buses. A ride on one still costs 5 cents in Yerevan, Armenia! And there's the huge escalators leading to the metro, the subway. There are no "undergrounds" here in Indiana, and it was so convenient and fun to ride them in Yerevan. The price of a subway token: yes, 5 cents!

Notice, too, the scene where the wolf shows his empty pockets to the passing militsia cops, to avoid being shaken down for a bribe. Americans have no concept of how corrupt law-enforcement officers demand money from innocent citizens, but it happens every day in the former USSR.

And be warned: The lalala-lala Nu Pogodi main theme song will stick in your brain for the rest of the day. I caught myself singing it in the shower this morning!

Do S'Vadaniya,

Viktor Kuprin

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At 8:23 AM EST, Blogger Captain Kosmos said...

Irina, my dear wife, has informed me that the Volk (Wolf) is not showing his empty pockets to the Militsia state troopers to avoid having to pay a bribe. According to her, during the Brezhnev "Years of Stagnation" when Nu Pogodi was first produced, Soviet police had not yet fallen to their current awful levels of corruption. Instead, the Wolf displays his empty pockets to show that he has not been stealing.

I've asked Ded Moroz, Grandfather Frost, the Russian Santa Claus, to bring me the Nu Pogodi DVD for Christmas, so I had better be nice and write good blogs.


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