Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tuesday's (or actually Wednesday's) Overlooked Film: The Humpbacked Horse (1975)

As you're probably aware by now, I'm interested in old animated cartoons and animations in general. I've always been interested in them, but I'm now trying to start a new book project: a book on the history of the animated films. There's only one book on the subject in Finnish and it's been sold out for ages now, as it was published in 1978 (IIRC). As for its contents, it's pretty lightweight, though entertaining.

Developing the project in my mind, I've been watching lots of obscure cartoons, some with my kids. Some of the older Japanese anime films have been largely forgettable, but the Russian cartoons seem to be very good, especially the longer ones. Mihail Tshehanevsky's The Wild Swans (1966) from the H. C. Andersen tale was very stylish and beautiful, alwas retaining its almost art deco artfulness. Ivan Ivanov-Vano's The Humpbacked Horse from a Russian poem that I watched more recently was however more in the vein of a traditional fairytale, though very well drawn.

Ivanov-Vano was one of the foremost Soviet animators, starting out with short subjects in the thirties, and filming The Humpbacked Horse already in 1947 (this previous film was shown in Finnish cinema at the time!) and remaking it in 1977. My dad had the later film on VHS and I loaned it. The quality was already pretty poor, but the film, minus the dreadful dubbing (just one person doing all the lines, with the original Russian lines audible in the back!), was very good, exotic and very well drawn (especially the backgrounds). The storyline featured interesting locals, magic and adventure.

Kauto also got a glimpse from the film and much to my surprise stayed with it until the end. And then yesterday he asked if he could see it again! But alas, the VHS had deteriorated, just in two or three days after my first viewing, and you could see practically nothing. I'll have to haunt this down either on DVD or on a better-quality VHS.

Here's some info on the film, and here's Wikipedia on Ivanov-Vano. More Overlooked Films here.

And here's an interesting item, a satire movie by Ivanov-Vano from the story by poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, made already in the 1930's.

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