Thursday, June 05, 2008

Some obscure and more obscure animated cartoons

I've been watching some pretty forgotten or unknown animated cartoons lately. I don't really know why I like to waste my time on these kind of things, but hey, what else would I write about on this blog? Um.. was this blog supposed to be about pulp fiction? Or my writer's life? Nah, screw that.

And some of these I even enjoy.

The best of the bunch was undoubtedly a DVD collection of Gene Deitch's animations. Deitch is an oddity in the American animation business, since he skipped the US after having worked for Terrytoons in the late fifties and early sixties, and moved to Prague, Czechoslovakia to produce his films with the Eastern bloc animators and artists. Some of the stuff he produced with artists like Zlatko Grgic is interesting, surrealist take on the American animation's most familiar stuff, like a bigger animal chasing a smaller animal and never succeeding. Deitch has a big, black bird chasing a worm. The bird runs on its feet, it doesn't seem to fly (well, it uses some sort of a helicopter in one scene). There are some really surreal moments in these animations, while at the same time they are easily watchable like the Roadrunners or Tom & Jerry.

Deitch also made his own Nudnik cartoons - it's said that the character is based on his own creation for Terrytoons, called Floofle. These were also made in Prague in 1960-1964, and released through Paramount as theatrical shorts. Nudnik (Oiva Tumpeloinen in Finnish) is a small, human-like character who doesn't succeed in anything. He seems like a homeless person - occasionally he lives in buildings to be demolished. There's a feel of silent comedy in these shorts, and one easily thinks of Charles Chaplin or Buster Keaton watching Nudnik. I liked these a lot, but Kauto got bored. Ottilia liked Nudnik to a certain extent. I had to watch these all by myself...

I don't think these have ever been shown in Finland - the DVD collection (Oiva Tumpeloisen seikkailuja 1-2) must've been the first instance, even though some of the Czech stuff Deitch produced was shown on telly when I was a kid. If anyone knows more, I'd really like to know.

Now, to a bore called David & Sandy. The film was made in Hungary, which is why I bought the old VHS cassette from a thrift store - I thought it might be one of those artsy Eastern bloc animations I have a great liking for. But no. No no no. It seems that this was an independent production - in Hungary in the late eighties that may have been possible - and that this was intended for international distribution. The film has a feel of American animation, but the art is worse and the characters are very unappealing, especially the kid, David, in the lead, with his bulging eyes and small nose. (And the humans have only four fingers - I find this almost repulsive, even though with ducks or mice it's perfectly okay.) The plot is stupid, with lots of stuff thrown randomly in, from space aliens to a toy museum of the future. Kauto seemed to be interested in the movie, but I solemnly swear I'll never watch it again. (The terrible Finnish dubbing may have something to do with my dislike of the film, but the art was still awful and the plot clichéd and stupid.)

Last but not least, Vuk or The Little Fox by Pannonian Studio, also Hungarian, seemed a lot better, with nice animal characters, but the Finnish dubbing of the ancient VHS cassette was so bad that it seems unprobable I'll watch this to the end. It's been said that this has been the second biggest box-office hit ever in Hungary. No wonder - the little fox, Vuk, is cute. If I have the time to sit through this, I'll report back.

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