I couldn’t work out the difference between a ‘cartoon’ and an ‘animation’ so I’ve settled for a literal description – moving pictures. I guess there is no difference, except the target audience, and that adults prefer to watch the formal ‘animations’ so they don’t sound childish…
Anyway, I’m not going to babble on about naming conventions and linguistic overlaps in the English language – this post is all about cartoons. More specifically, it’s about cartoons from the side of the Cold War which didn’t have Disney or the Warner Brothers.
Like all kids who grew up in the UK in the 70s and 80s I was heavily (and maybe unhealthily) exposed to hours and hours of Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Tweetie Pie etc and endless re-runs of older classics such as Bag Puss, King Rollo, Mr Ben and Postman Pat which was all postponed once a year for the Christmas animation cheese-fest, the Snowman. Actually, I could probably sit and type for another twenty minutes listing all the cartoons I remember, He-Man, Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds etc etc… but I think you get the picture.
Had I been sitting 1000 miles to the east, life would have been very different. Instead of Winnie the Pooh, I would have giggled away to Vinny Pooh and instead of Tom and Jerry, I would have fond memories of the USSR’s bad woolf in Nu Pogodi. I’m absolutely sure I would have wanted a Cheburashka toy.
Anyway, for the benefit of anyone who cares and everyone who didn’t grow up in the ex-USSR, I’ve compiled a list of the most popular animations and cartoons from the region. Yes, some are stupid and yes, some are strange but they’re all unique and offer a fascinating insight into a world which no-longer exists.
Thanks to Youtube and thanks to the people who added subtitles, we can all enjoy them. So, let’s start with the coolest… the amusingly simple Vinny Pooh
We have “Winnie the Phooh” because we have a ‘W’ and definitive articles, the Russians have the much funnier “Vinny Pooh”. Now, I’m not sure that they’re based on the same stories (presumably they are, at least loosely) but, in my opinion Vinny wins paws-down. I was never a fan of the American Winnie the Pooh cartoons but I’m a big fan of the Russian version. Here, see for yourself.
No money, no honey
For good measure, here’s a very funny adult parody where Vinny gets wasted on Honey.
Next up is probably the most famous, the cutest and the most iconic – Cheburashka. He’s not a bear, not a gremlin, not a monkey with elephant ears – he’s a Cheburashka. Even the zoo didn’t know what to do with him. Luckily, he befriended Crocodile Gena and the rest is animation history.
Jil byl pes (There once was a dog)
Next we have a Ukrainian cartoon and story about a village dog. I’m not 100% sure I understand the moral of the story but then I doubt that I will ever understand the Ukrainians. Anyway, it’s a nice tale about an old dog who lived in a Ukrainian village and his friendship with a wolf. There are some striking similarities between this story and the tale of my Moldovan friend’s dog called Bingo, but thankfully this story has a much happier ending …if you can work out the moral of the story, please let me know.
Большой секрет для маленькой компании (Big Secret for a Small Company)
You’ll have to work this one out for yourself. I have no idea what’s going on, it could be complete drug induced nonsense. I guess what is happening is the ‘big secret’.
Dilly dilly, trali-vali … you’ll be singing it all day.
According to the comments “it is about a lazy brother who wont do anything. his brothers and sister ask him to go pick potatoes and he says he didn’t learn that at school. Then they ask him to play accordion and he says again he didn’t learn dat in school. Then they ask him to go get the spoons for lunch and he says sure no problem …and that’s basically the whole thing! It sounds like it was written about my older brother, except he’s not a ginger. Tarrr-um-pum-pum
Forget Tom from Tom & Jerry, the wolf in Nu Pogodi is the baddest cartoon character around. Like many guys I know here, the beer drinking, chain-smoking woolf is obsessed with a sweet little soviet bunny. However; much like today and despite his best efforts, the tasty bunny evades capture.
Finally, I’ll sign-off with the multi-award winning short animation about a hedgehog. ёжик в тумане (Hedgehog in the fog) is a dreamy story about a curious hedgehog who descends into a mysterious foggy world on his way to meet his friend the bear. Made in 1975, its a classic piece of storytelling and the neurotic bear is beautifully Russian in so many ways. There is a statue of the hedgehog ёжик on Reitarska street. Last time I saw him it was winter and someone had given him gloves and a hat.