While not as widely known in Russia as some other Western children’s authors, like Alan Milne or Astrid Llindgren, Dr. Seuss inspired several cartoons. Cat in the Cap (sic) (Кот в колпаке) is loosely based on The Cat in the Hat, sans Thing 1 and Thing 2 (but still featuring a grouchy Fish). It takes place in a typical urban dwelling where children have to spend a long rainy day alone. The theme of escaping into a land of fantasy from boredom of home or school is rather typical for the Soviet cartoons of the era of Stagnation, so Cat in Hat (Cap), with its protagonist, a safe entertainer who does not forget to clean the room before children’s tired mother returns from work, falls perfectly within the scope of Soviet cartoons of that time.
Cat in the Cap (Kot v kolpake)
Sverdlovsk Film Studio 1984
Another great animated film by Leonid Shmelkov, My Own Personal Moose (Special Prize at the Berlin Film Festival) – a story about a timid boy named Misha, his childhood dream, and his relationship with his gloomy, short-spoken, but caring father. It’s a film about love, growing up, and a moose Misha hopes to find one day.
Мой личный лось (2013)
Stop motion animation all but ceased to exist during the Stalin-era Disney-inspired animation with extensive use of rotoscope technique. A Cloud in Love, with its eclectic mix of puppets and hand-draw animation, became an aesthetic pivot point for Soviet animation that turned to its avant-garde roots during the Khrushchev Thaw and well the 1960s. Stop-motion animation was usually considered subpar by children, but highly valued by critics. Nikolay Serebryakov’s cartoon Ball of Wool is based on a poem by Ovsei Driz, a notable Soviet Jewish poet who wrote in Yiddish and worked primarily for children. Ball of Wool like many of his works were translated into Russian by Genrikh Sapgir, a prominent poet and author of many cartoon scripts, including such classics as Losharik. Serebraykov literally spins this story using a magic ball of wool that an old woman finds in the midst of the winter storm. She starts to knit her small world where soft woven objects are juxtaposed with harsh, edgy features of puppets. Mix of puppet and woven animation create a unique environment of this parable.
Ball of Wool (Клубок)
The Nativity by Mikhail Aldashin depicts events of the New Testaments in a subtle, delicate way. Naive style inspired by medieval art, muted colors, and characters presented in a childlike manner create an intimate vision of a miracle without traditional pomposity.
The Nativity (Рождество) 1996
Laska (Chick, 2008) an ironic, visually striking short film about relationships between sexes by Michał Socha, a Warsaw-based animator.
One of the earliest Soviet cartoon, Ice rink tells a simple story about a trickster boy in his budenovka hat (a high top wool hat, part of the Bolshevik uniform during the Civil war) who sneaks into ice rink and later has to flee from a fat NEPman. NEPman was a businessman during limited freedom of enterprise in the Soviet Union of the 1920s; the NEPmen were a popular target of Communist satire. His top hat and obesity are signs of a capitalist in Soviet iconography. Ice rink is one of the first cartoons featuring work of Ivan Ivanov-Vano, the patriarch of Soviet animation
Poster of agitprop (1921) featuring an evil capitalist in a high hat by one of the leading futurist poets, Vladimir Mayakovsky
NEPmen by Vladimir Lebedev
Ice rink (Katok) 1927
Hopfrog (2012) is a beautifully bizarre animated short by Leonid Shmelkov, with remarkable rhythm, plasticity, and wonderful hopping creatures.