Soviet Puppet Cinema of the 1930s: from Avant-Garde to Mainstream

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Evaluation of Russian animated cartoons of the 1930s wasn’t positive for a long time; historians of cinema, directors, artists marked this period as the era of hard times, as «formalism» and «imitation Disney's esthetics». However the films considered in the article have played a significant role in development of world cinema. Particularly they have influenced upon moulding of the Czech, Polish and Ukrainian stop motion animation of the post-war years. Unfortunately, some works released in the Union of puppet animation at Mosfilm studios under the leadership of A.L. Ptushko have been lost, and nowadays it is impossible to establish precisely their actual released number. In the article the experimental animation films of the second half of the 1930s which have remained on film and also in the form of editorial scripts (RGALI, “Mosfilm”, “Gosfilmofond”) are being analyzed. It should be noted/ that five films of the group shot with P. Mershin's method are restored (method of time-lapse reconstruction) by N. Mayorov and V. Kotovsky (on the remained color negatives) in the 2010s. So it is possible now to estimate innovation and originality of these films, and to define a role of school of the Soviet animation in development of the world stop motion. Special attention is drawn to the socio-cultural context accentuating peculiarities of reading the films, which formed their imagery and on specific reflection of a “defence discourse” in the Soviet animation of 1935-41s.

About the authors

Nina Yu Sputnitskaya

НИИ киноискусства ВГИК

Author for correspondence.

PhD in Art


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Abstract: 169

PDF (Russian): 124


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