Russian Cartoons

Russian Animations

1. «Крокодил Гена» / «Krokodil Gena» / «Crocodile Gena» (4 episodes) (1971-1983)

“…There are four episodes of the adventures of Cheburashka and his friends. Despite their origins in the Soviet era, Cheburashka, Crocodile Gena, and Shapokliak remain popular in Russia today: they are shown frequently on Russian television and have appeared in other contexts. A white Cheburashka, for example, was the official mascot of the 2006 Russian winter Olympic team.” (from Animation for Russian Conversation, by Merrill, Mikhailova and Alley, 2009)

A Soviet postage stamp featuring the Gena the Crocodile animation


2. «Винни Пух» / «Vinni Pukh» / «Winnie the Pooh» (the Russian version, 3 episodes, 1969-1974)

«… The story of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends became popular in the Soviet Union after a well-known childrens’ writer and poet, Boris Zahoder, translated A.A.Milne’s book into Russian. Zahoder’s translation was first published in the Soviet Union in 1960 and immediately became a hit. A few years later, a team of Soviet animators… created three epiusodes of the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends… Winnie and his friends remain among the most beloved characters in all Soviet and Russian animation. All three episodes are full of expressions that have become part of the everyday lexicon of Russian, both children and adults.»

(from Animation for Russian Conversation, by Merrill, Mikhailova and Alley, 2009)

A postage stamp showing Piglet and Winnie-the-Pooh as they appear in the Soviet adaptation

Piglet and Winnie-the-Pooh

3. «Ежик в тумане» / «Ezhik v tumane» / «Hedgehog in the Fog” (1975)

«Award-winning Russian animator Yuri Norstein created Hedgehog in the fog in 1975 based… on fairy tales about a hedgehog and a bear cub. The cartoon tells the story of a scared, quiet, thoughtful, and inquisitive hedgehog who is lost in the fog on the way to meet his friend the bear cub, with whom he likes to drink tea and lie together on the roof countng stars. The cartoon couples a melancholy story with innovative effects… For decades Russian critics have regarded this cartoon as well as Norstein’s other animation work as among the best ever made. In 2003 Hedgehog won the title of #1 Animated Film of All Time at the contest All Time Animation Best 150 in Japan and Worldwide in Tokyo. In 1976 Hedgehog was awarded first prize for Best Animated Film at the All-Union Film Festival in Frunze (now Bishkek) and at the Children’s and Youth Film Festival in Tehran… In 1988 an image of the cartoon (the hedgehog and the owl) became one of the themes of Soviet postal stamps.»

(from Animation for Russian Conversation, by Merrill, Mikhailova and Alley, 2009)

Hedgehog in the Fog on the 1988 USSR stamp.

Hedgehog in the fog

4. «Малыш и Карлсон, который живет на крыше» / «Malysh i Karlson, kotoryi zhivet na kryshe» / «The Kid and Carlson who Lives on the Roof» (2 episodes, 1970) (*Russian version by Boris Stepantsev from 1970 should not be confused with an animation by Vibeke Idse, from 2004)

(No English subtitles; 19:16)

Junior and Karlson and Karlson is Back are cartoons created by Boris Stepantsev in 1970. The cartoons are based on the stories written by the well-known Swedish children’s writer Astrid Lindgren (best known for Pippi Longstocking) about a cute, chubby, funny little man-like creature named Karlson who flies and lives on a roof. The cartoons follow Karlson, whose primary interests include eating and fantasizing, and his friend, a little boy named Malysh (Junior.) Though these cartoons are almost forty years old, they are still the favorites of many Russian families; many generations grew up on them, watched them a million times but never became tired of this easy-going, nice and naughty shorty. Sayings and exchanges from Karlson, such as Спокойствие, только спокойствие! (Take it easy!), are frequently heard in the everyday speech of Russians.”

(from Animation for Russian Conversation, by Merrill, Mikhailova and Alley, 2009)

The characters from the Soviet animated film directed by Boris Stepantsev depicted on a Russian stamp, 2012.


5. «Ну, погоди!» / «Nu, pogodi!» / «Just you Wait!” (20 episodes) (1969-2006)

«Nu, pogodi! (Russian: Ну, погоди!, Well, Just You Wait!) is a Soviet/Russian animated series produced by Soyuzmultfilm. The series debuted in 1969 and became popular in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. The latest episode was produced in 2006. The series follows the comical adventures of a mischievous yet artistic wolf, Volk, trying to catch (and presumably eat) a hare, Zayats. The original film language is Russian, but very little speech is used, usually interjections or at most several sentences per episode. The series was, for many years, hugely popular among the Soviet public, and it is popular in the Federation to this day. Kotyonochkin [the director] tried to create very simple, straightforward scenarios. The main idea of the series was simple; don’t hurt the little guy or you will yourself get into a foolish situation. Since the 1990s, when the fall of the Iron Curtain allowed better exchange of films, both Russian and Western audiences have noted similarities between Nu, pogodi! and American cartoons, the most noticeable being Tom and Jerry. The director has admitted that he was learning from Disney animated films which were brought into the USSR from Germany immediately after World War II, particularly Bambi. However, he did not see any Tom and Jerry episodes until his son bought a VCR in 1987.» (adapted from Wikipedia)

USSR – CIRCA 1988: stamp printed in USSR, shows rabbit and wolf cartoon, Just you Wait!, series Animated Soviet Cartoons, circa 1988

6. «Трое из Простоквашино» / «Troye iz Prostokvashino” / «Three from Prostokvashino» (3 episodes, 1978-1984)

«Three from Prostokvashino (Russian: Трое из Простоквашино, Troye iz Prostokvashino) is a 1978 Soviet animated film based on the children’s book Uncle Fyodor, His Dog and His Cat (Дядя Фёдор, Пёс и Кот) by Eduard Uspensky. The film has two sequels, Vacations in Prostokvashino (Каникулы в Простоквашино) (1980) and Winter in Prostokvashino (Зима в Простоквашино) (1984). The main character is a six-year-old boy who is called Uncle Fyodor because he is very serious. After his parents don’t let him keep Matroskin, a talking cat, Uncle Fyodor leaves his home. With the dog Sharik, the three set up a home in the country, a village called “Soured milk.” There, they have many adventures, some involving the local mailman, Pechkin. The series has been a source of many phrases in the post-Soviet countries. It has made an impact comparable to Nu, pogodi! in Russian culture.» (adapted from Wikipedia)

7. The Musicians of Bremen

(this episode may be more appropriate for adult audiences, as it features a sexy femme fatale trying to seduce the king and topics such as the power of money in contemporary society)

The Bremen Town Musicians (Russian: Бременские музыканты, Bremenskiye muzykanty) is a 1969 Soviet musical cartoon made at Soyuzmultfilm. It is loosely based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Town Musicians of Bremen. The film became a cult hit in the Soviet Union because of its memorable musical soundtrack, which contains influences from Western rock ‘n’ roll music. Two sequels were made, including On the Trail of the Bremen Town Musicians (1973) and The New Bremen Musicians (2000). The cartoon focuses on a Donkey, a Dog, a Cat, and a Rooster and their master Troubadour (much more a classical five-pieces rock-band than a travelling circus. The young musician falls in love with a princess, and, after some troubles solutions, they run away so that they can continue their love affair.” (adapted from Wikipedia)


8. «Маша и медведь» / «Masha i medved’» / «Masha and the Bear,» 2009-present

50 episodes (a modern, post-Soviet animation, appropriate for younger kids)

Masha and the Bear (Russian: Маша и Медведь, Masha i Medved’) is an animated television series based loosely on the Russian folk tale, “Masha and the Bear”. The series focuses on the adventures of a girl named Masha and an anthropomorphic bear. Masha is depicted as a precocious, happy, kind, and mischievous little girl, while the bear is a grandfatherly retired circus performer that tries to keep Masha out of trouble but often ends up the unintended victim of her mischief. There are a number of supporting characters in the series, including Masha’s cousin, a penguin adopted by the Bear, a tiger that worked with the bear in the circus, and a female bear that is the object of the bear’s affections, along with a rabbit, a squirrel, and two wolves who live near the bear’s house. Masha, her cousin and Father Frost are the only characters who speak. The others communicate through pantomime or wordless sounds. In the US, the series will premiere on Netflix in August 2015. At Kidscreen Summit 2015, Masha and the Bear won for best animation in the ‘creative talent’ category.” (adapted from Wikipedia)

9.  Мультипедия. Русский алфавит за 5 минут. (Уроки тётушки Совы)

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