Thursday, March 7, 2013

Russian Cartoon Vinni the Puh

I've made a great discovery! It's a Soviet Union produced (Yes, that Soviet Union!) cartoon based on AA Milnes Winnie the Pooh. It's such a strange sentence to say; The Soviet Union made a cartoon. I bet the Nazis would have been more popular if they had made cartoons.

We are Kartoons from the Kremlin!

Anyway, here's my Soviet approved cartoon art:

Before I talk about the cartoons I want to briefly explain a bit of dissatisfaction on my part with my work. The characters all look good because that's how they look in the cartoon and I wanted to immortalize with with my own tablet pen. But I failed to give them anything to do. The characters are in arbitrary poses, not relating to each other in anyway. No character interaction, even in a still image like this, is cartoon suicide.

Enough self-criticism! Or not enough. Either way, here's my thoughts about the Puh cartoons.

I really love the Russian Vinni the Puh cartoons! For one thing, I like Vinni a whole lot. The way he trumps up and down the forest singing loudly and brashly like a fat little child would.

They also include a few more of the cadences of Milnes text. Take for instance interpretation of the story in which Puh and Piglet visit Rabbit for lunch and only for lunch.

Rabbit is obliging and offers them all the food they want and even helps Puh when he gets stuck in the doorway, as a good host should. As the Narrator explains, we may never know what Rabbit really thinks because he has good manners.

I prefer that explanation, it's more playful and shows a healthy disdain for over-the-top formality.

The Disney version, which I can't help but compare it to, is more blunt. Rabbit is persnickety and frustrated.

Personally, I enjoy the Disney adaption of Winnie the Pooh, as a kid it was a video-store favorite of mine, but being Disney animation from the '60s is has a few problems. One is the decline of solid construction. There's still remnants of it but Poohs forms are vague and indistinct.

The other problem Disney had at this time was over reliance on animation toppings and fancy techniques pioneered at Disney. In Pooh and many other films of it's ilk, it feels as if the techniques are there because the Disneys original masterpieces films have them, not because they really need to be there.

The Russian version is charming in it's economy of animation. They don't have to slow in and out of every motion to impress you.

The backgrounds are interesting too. They almost look like childrens crayon drawings. Could it be?

The character designs are amazing. It's a shame they didn't do more of these cartoons so that they could do more of Milnes characters. Every time a new one showed up I was aghast at how cute and inventive they were. Eeyore is adorable! So much more appealing than the middle of the road Disney design.

And how about Owl? Wide eyes and stretched pupils often look good on Owl characters but placing the beak higher than the eyes is inspired. I wonder if the they ever saw those Dick Briefer Frankenstein comics where the monsters nose is higher than his eyes?

And one last thing: I really like how Russian lyrics translate into English.

  • "The one who goes visiting in the morning is acting very wisely. Everyone knows this what morning is for"
  • "Winnie Pooh lives happily. That's why he sings these song aloud. And it doesn't matter what he do if he doesn't start to gain weight, and he won't start to gain weight. Never ever, yes!"
And how about this gem of a line, which is the big final lyric for cartoon where they all celebrate the happy ending to their story

  • "And I have the same opinion!"

That's a hilarious line! Shakespeare could've ended sonnets that way, Charles Dickens could've ended A Christmas Carol by having Tiny Tim say it. Heck, Looney Tunes should adopt it as their closing tagline!

And I have the same opinion, folks!

Watch the Vinni the Puh cartoons below. Many, many thanks to the guy who subtitled these!

Puh's pearls of wisdom should come in fortune cookies from this day forward!

1 comment:

  1. I dunno. I like the designs of these guys, and they do stay pretty true to the Milne text, but the Disney Pooh has always been my favorite.