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Jlewis

An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

22 posts in this topic

Figured that we needed a thread for classic theatrical cartoons already available online. Obviously the lifespan of anything on YouTube is temporary so some of these videos may need replaced later. Feel free to contribute more. I will try my best to provide as much information on these.

Covered this one already here: http://forums.tcm.com/topic/36026-russian-soviet-films/?tab=comments#comment-1618034

 

Lev i Byk (The Lion And The Ox)

Soviet Union: Soyuzmultfilm

Fyodor Khitruk

Released December 1983 and August 1984 (Ottawa International Film Festival)

 

What I find most interesting is that acacia tree shown at the end resembling some sort of nuclear mushroom cloud. The lion and the ox seem to represent rival nations enjoying an uneasy peace and the jackal “trouble” instigating it. 1983 was a key year in the Cold War and the overall uneasiness on both sides was also reflected on American TV with The Day After.

 

 

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Sand Castle (Le château de sable)

Canada: National Film Board Of Canada, producers: Pierre Moretti & Gaston Sarault

Jacobus "Co" Hoedeman

Released May 1977

 

I always liked this Oscar winner and can never explain why exactly. The music by Normand Roger is tranquil and very seventies-ish in mood (heavy on the flute), the characters molded in clay and sand are overly cute and there isn't any plot. Yet it all works.

 

 

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Koncert Za Mašinsku Pušku (Concerto for Sub-Machine Gun)

Yugoslavia (now Croatia): Zagreb

Dušan Vukotic

Credits listed here: http://zagrebfilm.hr/film/koncert-za-masinsku-pusku/

Released January 1959 (completed '58)

 

I absolutely love the Zagreb school. A bank robbery conducted like an orchestra concert, a respectable millionaire by day and a mob boss by night, lots of dead bodies everywhere and a moral that, when you die, you can't take all of that fabulous money with you. All done in the post UPA “modern” style. What's not to love?

 

 

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切紙細工 西遊記 孫悟空物語 (Krigamizaiku Saiyuki Songoku Monogatari / Journey To The West: Songoku's Story / Story Of The Monkey King)

Japan: Jiyu Eiga Kenkyu-jo

Noburô Ôfuji

Released October 26, 1926

 

Some very early anime done with cut-outs.

 

 

 

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Lisa I Volk (The Fox and the Wolf)

Soviet Union: Mosfilm

Sarra Mokil

Read full credits for this title here: http://www.animator.ru/db/?ver=eng&p=show_film&fid=2482

Released April 1, 1937

 

Technicolor was not available in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, but a couple processes were developed to counter this problem and mostly tested on animated cartoons. The cell-animated Strekoza I Muravej (The Dragon-Fly And The Ant), which was produced by Mezhrabpomfilm in 1935 with Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Valentina & Zinaida Brumberg (just before they got involved with mighty Soyuzdetmultfilm a.k.a. Soyuzmultfilm), was a major breakthrough in sound color Soviet animation. Yet technical cinematographer Pavel Mershin pushed the developments further with a chromatized gelatin process that got pretty darn close to matching the 3-strip Technicolor used in Hollywood and tested it out on some stop-motion puppet short films (running under 25 minutes) produced at mighty Mosfilm under the supervision of the great Alexander Ptushko. These were all made during a three year period sandwiched between two highly successful black and white features (also with stop-motion): Novyi Guliver (New Gulliver) and Solotoj (The Golden Key). Although Sarra Mokil is the primary director of The Fox and the Wolf, Ptushko was actively involved in the art and set designs and over-all supervision here. Of 15 short films made (at least one after the second feature), I think roughly 6-7 were originally in color. Another available on YouTube is The Fisherman and the Fish.

What makes The Fox and the Wolf (unfortunately not complete in this surviving print) particularly interesting is just how gruesome in tone it is despite the very bright candy-colored lighting. The latter character actually eats a calf pulling a cart and leaves the skin behind! Eeeewww! (To be fair, both canines look incredibly skinny and famished.) In the 1958 remake, a cell-animated Disneyesque version supervised by Pyotr Nosov at Soyuzmultfilm, this part was left out. Both versions include the scenes of the fox tricking the wolf to fish in an ice pond with his tail getting stuck. In the latter version, we see the full scene play out, while this incomplete version is missing a few minutes at the end. Intriguingly, the very same month the earlier version was released (April 1937), Ladislas Starevich's French-made masterpiece, Le Roman De Renard (The Tale of the Fox), premiered in Berlin after a long post-production period awaiting financing (being mostly completed before New Gulliver). Although that was based on different tales of Renard, it too features the classic scene of the fox tricking the wolf into ice fishing with his tail and ultimately losing it after humans clobber him.

 

 

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Inspirace (Inspiration)

Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic): Uvádí Loutkový Film/Československý státní Film

Karel Zeman

Released March 1949 (completed '48)

 

Glass stop-motion, with some more traditional stop-motion, a slight variation to what Jiří Trnka was doing over in Prague at this time with his feature The Emperor's Nightingale. Zeman was later the Walt Disney/George Pal of Czechoslovakia's film industry during the 1950s through '70s, taking on Jules Verne with fantasy features combining live action with animation.

 

 

 

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牧笛 (Mu Di / Buffalo Boy's Flute)

China: Shanghai Animation

Te Wei & Qian Jajun

Released December 1963

 

Watercolors were often used in cartoon backgrounds but not often incorporated into the animated characters themselves. Shanghai Animation studios gave Japanese anime a good run for their money in the fifties and early sixties at least. That is, until political changes took their toll on film-making, prompting a shutdown of the animation studio for a seven year period and sending many artists into the rice fields and janitorial work.

This was an award winner at the 3rd Odense International Fairy Tale Film Festival, but was then withdrawn from theatrical circulation in China by 1966 for nebulous political reasons.

 

 

 

A crash course history on Chinese animation:

 

 

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Schody (Stairs)

Poland: Studio Malych Form Filmowych Se-Ma-For

Stefan Schabenbeck

Released May 1969 (completed '68)

 

Climbing and climbing will get you nowhere.

 

 

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Une Nuit Sur Le Mont Chauve (Night On Bald Mountain)

France

Alexandre Alexeĩeff & Claire Parker

Released January 1934 (produced '32-33)

 

Probably needs no introduction. Those entranced by Fantasia eventually find this earlier pinscreen animation version of Mussorsky. Produced over an 18-month period and all of the obsession shows on screen.

 

 

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Lotte Reiniger doesn't get as much attention as she deserves in classic film circles. This documentary was made 18 years after her passing and does a nice overview of the personality behind the great silhouette cut-out films..

 

 

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Les Trois Inventeurs (The Three Inventors)

France: AAA

Michel Ocelot

Released May 1980 (completed '79)

 

Don't worry about the absence of English subtitles. Just enjoy how depraved the intricate cut-outs are. No, this is not computer generated imagery.

 

 

 

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DEFA had a prolific animation studio located in Dresden that was operating full scale from 1955 through 1990 with roughly two thousand titles, covering a wide variety of animation techniques as well as marionette and hand puppet films made especially for a juvenile audience and live-action documentaries. Covering two in one post here:

 

Ent- Oder Weder (Make Up Your Mind)

East Germany: DEFA-Studio für Trickfilme

Bruno J. Böttge

Released May 20, 1966 (completed in 1964)

 

Cut out and silhouette animation, popularized by Lotte Reiniger in Germany during the 1920s, was also popular as a German art-form during the Cold War era with Bruno Böttge. Among his early silhouette films was Der Wolf Und Die Sieben Geisslein (1953) for Studio für populärwissenschaftliche Filme, one of the precursors to Studio für Trickfilme. This short is a very dark comedy about man's relationship with very competitive canines. It gets brutal in the end!

 

 

 

Filopat Und Patafil: Der Wettlauf (Filopat & Patafil: The Race)

East Germany: DEFA-Studio für Trickfilme

Günter Rätz

Released January 4, 1963

 

I believe a total of 58 of these little Filopat and Patafil films were made between 1962 and 1967, with at least one follow-up later.

 

 

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Phantasmagorie

France: Gaumont

Émile Cohl

Released August 17, 1908

 

Some trippy toons never age...

 

 

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Uzel No Kapesniku (The Knotted Handkerchief)

Czechoslovakia: Studio loutkového filmu Gottwaldov/Krátký Film Praha

Hermína Týrlovà with Josef Pinkava & Miloš Komárek

Released September 1958

 

Only in a cartoon could a handkerchief become human. Adding to the surreal nature of this juvenile film is the live-action boy in an environment that begins in a standard apartment room, then morphs outdoors to a very “cartoony” playground with flat vegetation and fences.

 

 

Hermína Týrlovà started in animation in the middle 1920s along with her husband Karel Dodal and gained international attention post-war when this anti-Nazi puppetoon became an unexpected hit in western European and the United States theaters. Castle Films enjoyed plenty of mileage with it on 16mm and practically every baby boomer saw it on TV in the fifties at least once.

 

Vzpoura Hraček (Revolt Of The Toys)

Czechoslovakia: Krátký film Zlín/Československá filmová společnost

Hermína Týrlovà & Frantisek Sadek

Released May 8, 1947 (completed '46)

 

 

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Рикки тикки тави (Rikki Tikki Tavi)

Soviet Union: Soyuzmultfilm

Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaya

Released December 1965

 

It is always fun to compare Russian (namely Soyuzmultfilm) and American (often, but not always, Disney) cartoons using the same source material. For example, A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh looks and acts differently in contemporary Disney and Fyodor Khitruk (Vinni Pukh) versions even if the basic plots, including Pooh posing as a rain cloud with a bright blue balloon to fool honey bees and later getting stuck in Rabbit's entrance, are essentially the same.

Regarding Rudyard Kipling, a popular rumor has it that Walt Disney told his story men, after buying the rights to The Jungle Book, to simply throw it away and do it the Disney way. Yet the Maugli 20 minute featurettes directed by Roman Davydov between 1967 and 1971 only took a few liberties (like Bagheera being female).

Alexandra Snezhko-Blotskaya, a major director and designer in Soviet animation from the mid thirties through the mid seventies, tackled two Kiplings for Soyuzmultfilm. Curiously U.S. audiences had limited interest in The Cat Who Walked By Himself even if Pooh voice Sterling Holloway narrated a pretty cool recording of it for Disneyland Records. Her 1968 version, Kot, Kotoryj Gulyal Sam Po Sebe, adequately ran 20 minutes. 20 years later, Ideya Garanina supervised an expanded feature length version, re-titled as “herself”, that combined stop-motion and other animation techniques, also for Soyuzmultfilm.

Previously in 1965, Snezhko-Blotskaya made her version of Rikki Tikki Tavi, but unfortunately it got ignored for a time outside the country and was soon overshadowed by the enormously popular 1974 U.S. TV production by Chuck Jones of Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote fame, benefiting from Orson Welles as narrator (even if his voice ominously sounds like it was recorded in a lavatory). In some ways, this later version is a trifle better since it is slightly more faithful to the original and more adult in its characterizations. The '65 version features a younger mongoose and a bit too much cute appeal. The graphic designs in both are quite different but equally pleasing: the stylized children book design in the Soviet version echoing earlier UPA versus the “inky” Xerox-cel update contemporary of the Disney features. What I feel is the best attribute to the earlier Soviet version is the use of Indian characters in the human roles instead of British colonialists, which probably made that version more popular on TV over the years in the real India itself.

 

 

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Czerwone i Czarne (The Red and the Black)

Poland: Studio Miniatur Filmovych

Witold Giersz

Released June 1964 (completed in 1963)

 

This animator did some dazzling work for the Polish “school” with bright paint blotches taking form. Koń (The Horse) from 1967 is often considered his masterpiece, but this earlier work spoofing bull fights is quite charming. For a change of pace, the bull wins. More importantly, I wonder what Max Fleischer thought of this homage to his earlier “Out of the Inkwell” series.

 

 

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Lichtspiel Opus I

Germany: Ruttmann-Film

Walter Ruttman

Released April 1, 1921

 

Good abstract in tinted color, although some viewers may find it a trifle long.

 

 

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A Légy (The Fly)

Hungary: Pannónia Filmstúdió

Ferenc Rofusz

Released May 1980

 

This Oscar winner is hardly accurate. If you are a house fly, you have multiple eyes and see multiple images.

 

 

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Znatiželja (Curiosity)

Yugoslavia: Zagreb

Borivoj Dovniković

Released June 1967 (completed in 1966)

 

What makes the Zagreb school of animation so timeless is how it makes comedy out of the human condition. So much other humor is topical and loses its punch with age.

 

 

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Het Etherschip (The Ship of the Ether/Ether Ship)

Netherlands: Philips Radio

George Pál

Released December 1934

 

I have always had a soft spot for George Pal, purchasing Arnold Leibovit's The Puppetoon Movie on VHS in the late '80s, then the Image DVD in the early 2000s. There is also the excellent upgraded expanded version (with still more extras) on both BluRay and DVD: https://shop.tcm.com/the-puppetoon-movie/757347404144 TCM had a spotlight on Pal last year.

After experimenting with stop motion in some German advertising films like the marching cigarettes in Mitternacht (Midnight), George Pal set up a little factory, followed by a bigger one with a bigger staff, in Eindhoven with Philips Radio backing him. One of his first color cartoons for Philips was the delightful cel-animated Radiorør-Revolusjonen (Radio Valve Revolution/Revolution Of The Bulb), but stop-motion of doll figures soon became his true love. The Ship of the Ether was the first of eight stop-motion efforts processed in still now impressive (if slightly primitive) Gasparcolor. By 1937, he was shooting in full Technicolor, with Unilver and the British based Horlicks also sponsoring him. The outbreak of war sent him to Hollywood and Paramount Pictures; his newer facilities providing work for a young Ray Harryhausen in 1940, among others. (Some of his key Dutch staff members reunited after the war with a new company called Dollywood.) After 1947, Pal's focus switched from short subjects to mostly live-action features with stop-motion special effects.

Compared to his later efforts, this one is quite simple in the design of its figures (resembling Fisher Price “Little People”), but elaborate with its glass art deco settings. Like a follow-up Puppetoon released in early 1935, De Tooveratlas (The Magic Atlas), it advertises how sophisticated the Philips sound system is, both on cruise ships far from land and in broadcasting from different countries.

 

 

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Cavallette (Grasshoppers)

Italy: Bozzetto Produzioni

Bruno Bozetto

Released May 1990

 

Insects will outlive all human kind, being unconcerned with human obsession for violence. Provided, that is, that the humans keep decomposing into green, green grass.

 

 

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These two have always been favorites of mine, both satires on motion pictures. The first one, a product of Britain's top animation studio of the 20th century, is a crash history lesson on movie making from cave man “comics” through the rise of wide screens in the 1950s to combat that electrical box installed in every living room. The second one, from Russia's top animation studio of the 20th century, presents the actual making of a movie as if it is happening in the Book of Job with every conceivable frustration involved.

 

History of the Cinema

UK: John Halas & Joy Batchelor

Released August 1956

 

The Brits always displayed a dry sense in humor in their animated cartoons, even when lecturing. Some of the funny writing comes from Nicholas Spargo (who, under his own studio, produced some of the wittiest TV ads of the sixties and seventies featuring oddball couple Joe and Petunia). Great character animation by Harold Whitaker and John Smith add to the fun, including a key scene of a movie censor guy chopping up the footage so that the patrons can't see all of this “sin”, but savoring it all for himself. Greedy little so and so...

 

 

 

 

Фильм, фильм, фильм (Film Film Film)

Soviet Union: Soyuzmultfilm

Fyodor Khitruk

Released December 1968

 

Fyodor Khitruk had met the great Sergei Eisenstein at least once before he died in 1948, although (according to Wikipedia) the hot-tempered director lampooned here was inspired by one of his contemporaries, Grigori Roshal.

I absolutely love how this presentation is put together. We start with shots of pop art from the swinging sixties of everybody, including the late Marilyn Monroe and late Buster Keaton. Then we are thrust into all of the frustration behind the glitz, complete with uncooperative weather for cow shots and uncooperative child actors. Perhaps Khitruk's statement here is that Soviet filmmakers were increasingly jealous of what was happening in sunny capitalistic California. Over here, you don't get Oscars but a mere flower bouquet as gratitude.

 

 

 

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