Monday, February 23, 2009

Czech and Russian Cartoons and Thoughts About Art Under Communism

A typical Socialist Realist Style Painting by

Karpo Trokhimenko

Painting by Karel Vysusil

One of my past times is watching cartoons with no words from other countries. I am particularly interested in Russian and Eastern European cartoons. The artistic value of some of these cartoons is very high. The music is by itself interesting. The Nu Pagodi cartoon series from Russia often draw from Russian traditional songs for their largely wordless sound track.

Nu Pagodi has two main characters. There is Volk (Wolf) and Zayits (Rabbit) It has generally four words that it employs, no matter what the plot is. In addition to Volk and Zayits is "Nu Pagodi" Which is usually shouted at the end of each episode by Volk and roughly translates as "I'll get you yet !!" The cartoon is high quality. Its graphics remind me of American cartoons.

The Czechs came out with a cartoon series called "Krtek". Krtek is "mole" in English. Each episode involves the mole in a different adventure. The graphics look like Czech folk art. I find myself as absorbed by the art as by the plot. I watch these cartoons with my children. They focus on Krtek's adventures. I focus on the art work as much as the plot.
When children and parents each experience the cartoon at their own level that is what makes a good cartoon.

There was a lot of good music art and film behind the iron curtain. It was a struggle to maintain one's integrity. Frequently in books, authours were forced to include in the text a speech extolling Marxism. Sometimes the speech seemed absurdly out of place. Readers developed the skill of flipping past the propaganda and reading without the propaganda inserts.

Under Nazi rule, a lot of artists went through what was called an "inner migration" in which they dwelled on "safe" topics or shrouded their social criticism in allegory. I wonder how much this phenomenon also characterised life under communism.

I hope that the films, music and art of the communist era are preserved. Most people tried to get by, to find and even create enough beauty to make life liveable. In the darkest days of Stalinism, a dreary style known as Socialist Realism became the official artistic ideal. Fortunately, this idiocy was abandoned with time.

I am including with this posting a Nu Pagodi video as well as a Krtek sample. I hope my readers enjoy them both.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you want to say that 'Nu pogodi' series were done by the gloomy artists went in "inner migration"? In this case, the most oppressed artists were in Walt Disney studio ;)