Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Story Sources of Animated Features before Walt's Death and Russian Feature Slowdown


Snow White- Fairy Tale

Pinocchio-Fairy tale-esque book

Fantasia- Musical works

Dumbo- Toy novelty book

Reluctant Dragon- live action propaganda and a short story

Bambi- Book

Saludos Amigos- anthology

Three Caballeros- anthologyR

Make Mine Music- anthology

Fun and Fancy Free- anthology

Melody Time- anthology

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad-novel segment and short story

Cinderella-Brothers Grimm version of fairy tale

Alice in Wonderland- two fantasy novels from Lewis Carrol 

Peter Pan- Based off of book based on play

Lady and the Tramp- Based off of book

Sleeping Beauty- Based off of fairy tale

101 Dalmatians- Based off of book

The Sword in the Stone- based off of book based on legend


The Lost Letter- Nikolai Gogol short story from a collection

The Hunchbacked Horse- Based on a poem

The Night Before Christmas -Based on Gogol short story

The Scarlet Flower- based on Russian adapted fairy tale Beauty and the Beast

The Snow Maiden- based on play which is turn based on folk tales

The Enchanted Boy- Based on Swedish novel

The Twelve Months-based on fairy tale play

The Snow Queen- Based on Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale

Beloved Beauty- based on Russian folk tales

The Adventures of Buratino- Adaptation of Russian adapted version of Pinocchio

It Was I Who Drew the Little Man- Expanded version of an animated morality tale

The Key- original fairy tale

The Wild Swans- Based on Hans Christian Andersen

Left Hander- Based on Nikola Lesov story


There are many similarities between Disney's story sources and those of Soyuzmultfilm. They both used fairy tales, short stories and books for their content and during this period they both had little use of original stories. Soyuzmultfilm only produced two original stories both of which are light propaganda, and Disney only did their original storytelling in short segments of anthologies. For Disney there is some variety early on but followed by economic decline where the films are all anthologies until the company returns to fairy tales and book adaptations.

Visually the Disney films are for a large part superior to the Soyuzmultfilm ones if we compare the prewar Disney films to the tail end of war Soyuzmultfilm ones. They both have  visual slumps, Disney after Bambi's release and Soyuzmultfilm during the Stalin period though I'd say that Soyuzmultfilm has an edge story-wise due to Disney's lack of focused storytelling during the time. Visually, however, the Soviet films are edged out by Disney until the 60's where the lack of experimentation in characters and media begins to show.

Towards the end, around the mid to late 50's Soyuzmultfilm starts to edge out Disney in both storytelling and after a while visual innovation. They had two original stories in the 60's and while they didn't follow up those films like they probably should have, they made the experimental film Bath based on a play with very inventive visuals,  They made a stop motion film and a cutout film and there would be a notable followup after this period I'm restricting this post to ends.

Russian animated features start to happen less regularly from here on out though they produced some real gems in the 80's before the Soviet Union collapsed and quality animation with it while Disney produced animal movie after movie but managed to recover with the Silver Age of animation, as it's known, before 3D CGI started to take over the industry from hand drawn animated films.

Recently, however, three Russian directors who started their careers in the USSR have made stop motion features.

Stanislav Sokolov with Hoffmaniada, Garri Bardin with The Ugly Duckling, and Andrei Khrzhanovsky with The Nose or the Conspiracy of Mavericks.

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