The Little Mermaid: 1968 Soviet Animation of the Tale by Hans Christian Andersen


This is a beautiful 1968 Soviet adaptation of ‘The Little Mermaid,’ by Hans Christian Andersen. It was produced by the great Soyuzmultfilm studio. There are no subtitles. Just enjoy it as a brilliantly animated musical approach to a great tale.

The film begins with a busload of tourists sightseeing in Copenhagen. Then it moves to sea and our story begins…


The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights: Russian Fairytale Animation


This is a 1951 Russian animation of an 1833 fairytale poem written by Alexander Pushkin that is based upon the classic Grimms tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was directed by Ivan Pyetrovich Ivanov-Vano, known as the ‘patriarch of Soviet animation.’

You can read Pushkin’s The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights.

The film is in Russian so you can use the YouTube settings to turn on English subtitles.

Stan: Beautiful Hand-Crafted Animated Film by Meirav Haber


I recently went into the Hive Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. Making my way toward the back of the long row of artists’ stalls – for all intents and purposes an artists’ neighborhood – I encountered an animated film playing on an iPad that was hung on the wall of the display area for artist Meirav Haber. It caught my attention because of the gorgeous and finely detailed handmade dolls she uses for her animation. This kind of filmmaking has become something of a rarity in our CG world. So now the eye seeks out the human touch. Finding it is a pleasure.

Haber has an unusually quiet and calm approach to telling her story. We are encouraged to watch the character and look for the details in his surroundings. The details are incredible. Watch the film through, then go back and pause it to have a look around. Enjoy the work of a master at her craft.

This kind of animation is done in a small studio on tabletop sets built by the artist. It’s all about imagination connected to the hand.

Stan is a simply told tale about a man who was born with an unfortunate resemblance to the Devil. His efforts to gain acceptance and companionship essentially turn him toward an appreciation for odd objects that closely resembles the artistic impulse. Haber’s beautiful film is made entirely with the magnificent hand-crafted artworks of an amazing artist.

Continue reading

Cinderella: Fantastic 1947 Soviet Union Feature Film


Filmed in the Soviet Union just after World War II, this is a rare gem of fairytale movie making. It’s a fantastically colorful telling of the tale that stands as a welcome contrast to the Disney approach. The film features one of Russia’s greatest stage actresses, Faina Ranevskaya, as the stepmother. It was produced by the Soviet LenFilm studio and directed by Mikhail Shapiro and Nadezhda Kosheverova. I think it was originally filmed in black & white but was recently colorized for a DVD release. The colorization works well within the context of a fairytale with grand stage scenery and theatrical costumes.



Beauty and the Beast: Russian Animation


This is a 1952 Soviet film adaptation of a variation on the Beauty and the Beast story called 'The Scarlet Flower', written by Sergey Aksakov in 1858. This story focuses much more on the bargain made between the unseen beast and the girl's father when he touches the scarlet flower on the magical island that is the beast's home than in the versions most American audiences are familiar with..

The animation technique in use here is called rotoscoping. Actors were filmed in costume doing their character movements, then traced frame-by-frame to create what was supposed to be a more realistic animation. In fact, rotoscoping often produces a curiously lifeless movement in conflict with the more fantastic backgrounds.