Russian cartoons that can help
learn Russian

Russian cartoons are loved all over the world. Some of the masterpieces of Russian animators noticeably influenced the works of modern masters of animation. Even Pope John Paul II advised to watch Soviet cartoons, since they bear kindness and teach compassion for all living things. In addition, watching Russian cartoons might be very useful for those who learn Russian, because animated films usually use much simpler language than movies and can be understood even without subs. So here is a little compilation of Russian cartoons that are known worldwide. 

russian cartoons
Just you wait!

Just you wait!

The series by Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin is a soviet version of Tom and Jerry. Russian response to the West was loved by the audience of the Soviet Union and the socialist countries. In 2010 the Mint of Poland even issued a commemorative collector coin with the image of the Rabbit and the Wolf. Initially the famous Soviet actor and singer Vladimir Vysotsky was chosen to voice the Wolf who is the main negative character of the cartoon, but the famous bard was in disgrace at the time, so the filmmakers involved another actor, Anatoly Papanov, whose hoarse voice became the hallmark of the cartoon, which doesn’t come off screens for nearly half a century. This cartoon uses very little speech (except the title phrase „Just you wait!“), so even if you just begin to learn Russian, understanding the cartoon won’t be a problem.

„The greatest love for the figment of the imagination of the writer Eduard Uspensky was kindled by the Japanese. „

russian cartoons
russian cartoons
F. Dostoevsky „Crime and Punisment“

Crocodile Gena

It is unlikely that the creators of the cartoon could have predicted the fame that was awaiting their characters — Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka. True glory fell on charming „odd animal“ with a strange and inexplicable name. The greatest love for the figment of the imagination of the writer Eduard Uspensky was kindled by the Japanese. In 2003, the company SP International acquired rights to redistribute this cartoon until 2023 from „Soyuzmultfilm“, and in 2009 Japan started showing the animated series „Cheburashka Arere?“, created by Director Susumu Kudo. Also a remake of „Crocodile Gena“ was released in Japan.

By the way, for those who learn Russian it might be interesting to know the origin of the name “Cheburaska”. Eduard Uspensky says that the idea of a story about Cheburashka came to him when he was visiting friends. The little daughter of the hosts was walking around the house in a long coat, stumbling and falling. After another girl’s fall, her father exclaimed, „Oh, you cheburashed again !“ The writer remembered the word and then used it in the book.

Animated characters created by Roman Kachanov and art director Leonid Shvarzman, became popular in many other countries. In the 1970s in Sweden a series of children’s television and radio broadcasts was created and the images of the Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka (whom the Swedes called Drutten, from Swedish drutta — „to fall“, „to stumble“) were used in it. In English and American theaters, the main character was named Topple, the German version is known as Plumps, and in Finland it is called Muskis.

russian cartoons
Hedgehog in the fog

Hedgehog in the fog

In 2003, according to a survey of 140 film critics and animators from different countries, “Hedgehog in the fog” by Yuri Norshtein have been voted the best cartoon of all times. The Norstein creation, which was based on the story by Sergei Kozlov, has long crossed the bounds of children’s animation and has become a philosophical parable for adults. It is sometimes called the most famousSoviet psychedelic cartoon. “Hedgehog in the fog” is by all means a must-see for those who learn Russian and are interested in Russian culture.

The artistic merits of «Hedgehog in the fog» were marked by many masters of world animation. A classic of Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki, mentioned the „Hedgehog in the fog“ as one of his most beloved works. The popularity of this cartoon in the West is also proven by the fact that in 2009 it was parodied in the episode „Spies Reminiscent of Us“ of the American animated sitcom “Family Guy”.

Norstein himself usually gives quite discreet comments on the film: „There is no intrigue in the action, there is no dynamics of the action. It is likely that in the „Hedgehog in the fog“ there was a happy match of all the elements.“

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