Tower Bawher (presumably Bawher is a reading of Башня, bashnia, tower in Russian) is an animated short by a Canadian animator Theodore Ushev (originally from Bulgaria) made in 2005. It is a unique homage to the avant-garde Russian artistic movement of the 1920s featuring rich visual references to several of the most important Russian Constructivist artists: Klutsis, El Lissitzky, Rodchenko, the Stenberg brothers, Tatlin, Vertov, and others.

Gustav Klutsis, photographer and graphic designer, Let’s Fulfill the Plan of the Great Works

Эль Лисицкий «Проун»

 El Lissitzky, graphic designer and book illustrator, Project of the Affirmation of the New

Alexander Rodchenko, photographer and graphic designer, captured Lilya Brick, a muse of Vladimir Mayakovsky, the most notable Soviet futurist poet.

Vladimirt Tatlin, the project of the Monument to the Third International

The Stenberg brothers. Poster for Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov, filmmaker, animation and montage pioneer

 

It captures energy and enthusiasm of early Soviet culture thanks not only to the images, but also because of the Georgy Sviridov’s acclaimed piece, Time, Forward! written in 1965, three decades after Stalin crushed Russian avant-garde and replaced it with Socialist Realism. During the Thaw (1957-1965), avant-garde was somewhat rehabilitated. Sviridov’s piece was written for the movie that took place in the early 1930s. Enthusiasm and passion should not obscure the fact that this Tower, symbol of the new world, like Tower of Babel, fails to be completed. This abstract film is an animated constructivist ballet, with amazing sense of rhythm.

Wordless

 

E.T.A. Hoffmann was always one of the most beloved German writers in Russia. We already wrote about the animated version of Nutcracker (1973). Tatyana Ilyina produced her full featured version of Nutcracker in 2004. Hoffmaniad (Гофманиада), the most recent stop motion animated film with elements of computer animation, has been in the works since 2001. It will combine elements of several novels, including Little ZachesThe Golden Pot, and The Sandman. It features art and design of a prominent Russian-born artists, Mikhail Shemyakin. As of now, a 20 minute version is available (based on The Golden Pot). Quality of puppets and design is amazing. Fantasy and reality blend together, and reality of the protagonist, Hoffmann, who serves as an official, is more tragic and surreal than magical adventures he writes about. Unfortunately, no exact release date is given.

hoffmann4 hoffmann3 hoffmann2 hoffmann1

 

Directed by Stanislav Sokolov

Russian, no English subtitles

About halfway between Western and Orthodox Christmas (January 7) it is worth to remember some of the Christmas-themed cartoons. The very first Christmas animated short was made by the stop-motion pioneer Wladyslaw Starewicz back in 1913. The Insects’ Christmas (Рождество обитателей леса) tells a dreamy story about a toy Father Christmas (Jack Frost, Дед Мороз) who leaves his Christmas tree and visits a frozen forest to bring the holiday spirit to creatures who live there. A frog, a ladybug, a dragonfly, and other insects join the party, get presents, skate, and have fun.

The Insects’ Christmas 1913

Silent, with English subtitles

Directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz

Produced by Aleksandr Khanzhonkov

Update: another translation

The Forest Creatures’ Christmas

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hl0QecN15I]

 

One of the most beloved New Year cartoon is Last Year’s Snow Was Falling (Падал прошлогодний снег) by Alexander Tatarsky. It’s a stop motion claymation loosely based on Russian folktales and featuring such folklore characters as the Fool, the Pike, the Hut on Chicken Legs, and many others. The main character tries to find a proper fir for a New Year celebration in a magic wood. The cartoon is full of absurd humor and became a source of multiple quotes. Tatarstky filmed several popular films in this technique, including Plasticine Crow. He went on to establish Pilot, the first independent Russian animation studios. In his late years he directed Gem Mountain, a brilliant series of cartoons based on folklore of peoples of Russia.

Ekran, 1983

Russian with English subtitles

part 1

part 2

A translation of the famous Losharik.

Losharik is a portmanteau from Russian words “loshad” meaning “horse” and “sharik” meaning “little ball”. A stop motion cartoon about a strange but kind animal that was born out of juggling balls.
Produced by Igor Ufimtsev
Based on a story by Genrikh Sapgir
Soyuzmultfilm 1971

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