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Conversion of Russian Animation by Western Corporations

All is not gold that glitters. However, glitter often makes you blind and its not easy to pass it by: the widely boosted new Russian full-length animated cartoon Prince Vladimir does its best to blindfold you.

The brilliantly pictured film of great beauty boasts expressive Disney-like characters and effects. Though focused on historic events it is quite modern: in terms of state-of-the-art graphic technology and trendy tricks.

Prince Vladimir

The makers of the film endeavor to interpret the controversial events of the past and create a kind and universal-love-inspiring cartoon. Everything is great, but for the very essence; the stepping stone they have chosen plays false.

The main character, Prince Vladimir, is presented to the viewer as a nice endearing person who has bad luck in falling under the evil influence of a pagan sorcerer; he is the victim of devil tricks. However it might be, the episode featuring glorious Vladimir and his troops brandishing swords at defenseless people and burning towns he conquers to unite Rus (ancient Russia) cannot but baffle me. Confounding is the historic backbone itself: how does it happen that an insane tyrant turns a saint? Some relate it to the evangelization of historic Prince Vladimir, who took pains to forcefully convert the heathen Rus. The fact only adds to doubting

The viewer is offered a false hero and made believe that Vladimir did not murder his elder brother to take the throne it was again the pagan villains lousy plots.

A funny thing is that Prince Vladimir speaks with the voice of Sergei Bezrukov, who starred in lots of newly made Russian serials and in particular played the role of Sergei Yesenin in the dubious serial Yesenin. The Story of Murder, which also presents us some shady interpretation of historic facts and the poets personality.

Prince Vladimir

The studio Sunny Home that has released the film is not only in cartoon production but it also films educational TV serials on Russian history. I wonder if those educational programs are as pseudo historic as Prince Vladimir. What makes the guys turn a blind eye to the historic truth and play fool with the public?

The animated cartoon Prince Vladimir appears a solid social project, richly financed and primarily aimed at commercial profit. The film makers do not fail to oversee the notorious success of Garry Potter and construct the same opposition: evil sorcerer Krivzha (Volan De Mort) and a boy named Oleksha (Garry Potter), the bearer of truth and the Good News.

However there is a truly fascinating character in the film it is a fairy old magician Boyan living in the forest, in harmony and peace with everything alive. His figure radiating with selfless love is really refreshing; you can trust the simple philosophy of this amusing fellow and it can in a way make up for the other flaws.

Eduard Uspensky and his Cheburashka

The other two newly released box office cartoons also dwelling on the days of Old Rus seem much better. The animation studio Melnitsa (Windmill) has produced full-length animated films Alesha Popovich and Tugarin Zmei and Dobrynia Nikitich and Zmei Gorynych with a comical view on old Russian epic tales and their powerful heroes. Though these are also fast food products with some fashionable western tidbits at least they make no pretence to a serious message. These are just funny and kind entertaining cartoons to be well sold.

Is it such a standard as good box-office that has attracted Disney Pictures to cooperation with Russian animated film industry? Writer Eduard Uspensky who has sold his mega-popular character Cheburashka to Japan supposes that foreign investments will encourage the development of Russian animated cartoons. However, the well-known gifted cartoonist Alexandr Tatarsky expresses quite an opposite viewpoint: Disney swallows up companies and people and makes everything under its own label- noted he in one of the recent interviews for the press.

Masyana by Oleg Kuvayev

Is there an alternative? Thinking of examples of original modern Russian animated films there comes to mind Masyanya created by Oleg Kuvayev. Numerous short series of this funny cartoon are extremely popular. Though primitively pictured and poorly financed, Masyanya is genuine and alive, unlike Prince Vladimir and the like films that bring in artifice and falseness to the art of Russian animation.

By Vera Ivanova

April 26, 2006 13:40

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