Soviet Toys, 1924

Soviet Toys was the first Soviet animated film, which is created using primitive line drawings. Soviet Toys was created not long after the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which by 1924 the Communist Soviet Union had now established it’s New Economic Policy, which leads me onto the main Character in the film ‘The NEPman’ and is portrayed much in a stereotypical way as a Evil Capitalist and is characterised as a greedy, overweight, bald man. The film starts of with the NEPman feasting on too much food and drink.

NEPman is seen as an Evil Capitalist, with stereotypical charactristics, greedy, overweight, bald man

The NEPman is then seen to roll around uncontrollably on the floor before regurgitating the word ‘Woman’ where suddenly a falling leaf manifests into a women, much to the enjoyment of the NEPman he proceeds to shower the women with gifts as to suggest to buy her affection, which she openly accepts by jumping into the NEPman’s stomach.

The film introduces a new character a ‘Worker’ who sees the NEPman and tries to extract taxes from him by pushing his foot onto the stomach of the NEPman, but unable to extract enough money, is now seen talking to a Peasant accompanied by the words on screen “Lets try together”.

The Worker and the Peasant now united as one and much stronger easily extracts more money from the NEPman, and shows the money going into the People’s Bank (the State). The final scene shows the Red Army hanging Soviet Toys on the Christmas Trees, The Capitalist, the Priests and the bourgeois women.

The imagery and the words, the film to me is suggesting that you can achieve more by joining with your fellow workers, further supporting the Communist ideology, and finally the Communist had found a use for the greedy Capitalist by using them as Toys to decorated the Christmas Tree.

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas


The Shareholder 1963

The Shareholder is another Russian propaganda film directly attacking the American way of life through a series of illustrations that resembles images from a comic book. The story is narrated and talks about the benefits of Capitalism was only available to the rich.

it shows three generations of the chase family working for Pearson’s a co operation that makes everything from kitchens to Nuclear Weapons. The film focus on Micheal Chase, who unlike his Father, not only works for the Pearson’s but is also a Shareholder, the film them goes onto display Micheal Chases luxurious lifestyle by showing he has a lovely home, a car, a full refrigerator and a beautiful wife. It then goes onto say that everything is bought on credit.

One night there is strike at the Pearson Factory, and is then shown Pearson visiting a factory that makes robots, he then decides to replace all the workers from the factory and replace them with robots.

Micheal Chase is then seen to lose his job and asks how can he pay for all his belongings as everything was bought on credit, as he searches the country for work to no avail, he finally ends up in bar and ordering a drink, when he tries to pay for the drink with his one and only Company Share he is punched by the bar man.

Interplanetary Revolution (1924)

Interplanetary Revolution 1924, produced by N Khodataev, Z Komissarenko and Y Merkulov, is a Russian propaganda film short that uses collage and was made to promote communism. The film begins with an image of peasants hands reaching out for help in the form of a Soviet Star, a symbol for Russian Communist Party.

Russian Peasant workers reaching for the symbol of the Soviet union

The short then turns it’s attention to the greedy Capitalists sucking blood from what looks like a peasant workers body, draining him of all life until nothing is left, while the greedy Capitalist are seen to grow larger and fatter. Then as the Russian Revolution looms the Capitalist are shown to try to escape by what looks like a larger shoe before flying to Mars, quickly pursued by Communists.

Showing an Evil Capitalist holding a knife, branded by a Swastika on his forehead.

The Russians follow the Greedy capitalist to Mars.

As the Capitalists arrive at Mars they find out that the Communists are already there and are then seen to be destroyed in what looks like a futuristic laser fight.

The Communist and the Greedy Capitalists fight in a deadly futuristic laser fight

I feel this short was not only just a warning to the greedy Capitalist that their is no hiding place from the Communist Party, but was aimed at sending a message to peasant workers about what they feel is the evil corruption that supports Capitalism.

Constructivism 1913

Constructivism was an art movement in Russia, started during World War I, the movement rejected the idea of creating art for art’s sake, instead art was used as an instrument for social purposes, and was used to help construct the socialist system during and after the Russian revolution. Constructivist artist attempted to create art designed to be useful and practical rather thanattractive, and would help educate people the values of the new Soviet System.

Russian Revolution of 1917

Their was two Revolutions in 1917, the first was a spontaneous Revolution made by the masses primarily caused by the Russian military failures during World War I, and because of public dissatisfaction with the way the country was being run by Czar, this marked the collapse of Imperialist Russia.

The Second Resolution known as the Russian Resolution led by the Bolsheviks, which became the first Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Communism is a social system and an ideology in which to create a classless society, free from oppression where decisions on Production and Policies are made democratically by every member of society. In a communist state everything from Industry to Education are nationalized (owned by the state).

Animal Farm (1954)

Animal Farm was the first animated feature film to be produced in England, by John Halas and Joy Batchelor. Animal Farm is based on George Orwell’s classic satire book based on the Russian Revolution and the problems with communism.

The film begins with an opening scene of a beautiful British countryside, but the mood quickly changes with the next scene when you are confronted with Manor Farm, a run down old farm instantly portraying far more sinister mood to the film. Animal farm is very much in the style of your typical Disney film, which are based on realism, you could also quite easily mistaken this film as one of those.

Beginning of Animal Farm, showing beautiful british countryside

Manor Farm owned by farmer Mr Jones

the story goes onto show the animals Manor farm being mistreated by the aggressive drunken farmer called Mr Jones. All this is too much for the animals of Manor farm, and leads to the animals to hold a secret meeting in the barn, chaired by their leader ‘Old Major’ a character based on Winston Churchill, as he talks about the the different hardships of the animals imposed by their owner.

Mr Jones the aggressive drunken farmer, owner of Manor Farm

Left 'Old Major' character represents Karl Marx and Lenin his voice is also based on Winston Churchill, Squealer's character represents Russian propaganda, Napoleon's character represents Stalin, and Snowball represents Leon Trotsky a progressive politician, opposition to Stalin

It is at this point you realise Animal farm is far from your typical Disney film, with an horrifying image revealing the pigs fate by showing dead pig carcass and butcher’s block.

Horrifying Image showing the Impending fate for the pigs of Manor farm

As ‘Old Major’ bring the meeting to an end, he dies leaving the animals without leadership. The next morning the animals rebel against Mr Jones, take control of Manor farm and chase Mr Jones from the farm.

Animals Revolt and take control of Manor Farm

Later Snowball tries to bring order and leadership back to the farm, with the successful efforts of the animals, Animal farm was a growing success, Snowball decides to spread the news to other farms to join the Animal Revolution. Unfortunately hardships fell on Manor Farm with inexperienced Managers brought shortages to the farm, while Snowball set his plan to improve the animals conditions with light, heat and luxuries for all but came at a cost, which would see the animals eating less and working harder much to the dismay of Napoleon who orders the dogs to chase him down and kill Snowball. Eventually the pigs take control with Napoleon as their leader and Squealer his second in command. They decide to protect their interests and make the decisions for the animals they order the animals to build the windmill, which was Snowball’s original idea to improve the conditions on Manor farm.

While the pigs are in charge of manor farm they abuse their powers, making life more difficult for the rest of the animals, as they impose more orders on the animals they begin to relax their own privileges altering the seven commandments to Animalism to suit their own greed and ignorance. The pigs eventually started trading with a human called Mr Whimper, benefiting both the pigs and Mr Whimper, the other farmers become jealous and march towards Manor farm to put an end to Animal farm, the Animals again fend off another attack, but with a disastrous consequence, as Mr Jones blows up the animals new windmill, which had to be built again increasing further hardship for the animals, at the same time the pigs were becoming lazier.

Mr jones blows up the Animals Windmill

With the building of the windmill, now the weak boxer became injured in which sees Napoleon sending him to the glue factory. After Napoleon lied to the animals about Boxers death, their suspicions grew each day, the Animals were growing more and more dissatisfied.

Animal Farm now resembling a concentration camp

Later with the uprising a distant memory, Animal Farm now resembling more like a concentration camp also shows the pigs adopting even more human traits which sees them walking on two legs. The final straw is when Benjamin reads the new revised law “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS”

The Final straw for the Animals at Manor Farm

It is at this point where George Orwell’s book differs from the Animated film, as it is at this stage in the book depicts the animals looking through the farm window see the pigs dealing with men and the animals look from men to pig, to pig to men, the animals find it difficult to say which is which.

“The Animated film however takes up the theme of counter revolution this a surprising departure for a film that otherwise follows Orwell’s story so faithfully, might be explained by research that has recently come to light that suggest one source for the funding of animal farm may have been the American intelligence Unit, the CIA. Halas and Batchelor indeed De Rochemont where in all likelihood unaware of this, but if true does give a cogent reason for why at the height of the cold war such a change in Orwell’s story might have been seen as desirable”
Brian Sibley – Film Historian

The Animated film adopt the counter revolution theme with Benjamin peering through the window to see the Napoleon transform into Mr Jones and back to Napoleon, it is at this point all the animals start their counter revolution against the pigs.

This is where Benjamin see's Napoleon morph into Mr Jones

Unlike the Orwel's book the film follows a theme of Counter Revolution

On reflection I prefer the Animated ending as I feel this story needed resolution, also I would feel people maybe disappointed especially children who might not understand or be disillusioned by the animals suffering while the pigs carry on with their corrupt ways.

Jan Svankmajer Dimensions of Dialogue (1982)

Dimensions of Dialogue (1982)
Svankmajer’s (Dimensions of Dialogue, 1982) is one of his most successful short films, and shows a more serious side to svankmajer, the imagery is very shocking through scenes of cannibalism and vomiting and violence. Dimensions of Dialogue consists of three dialogues part one factual dialogue, part two passionate dialogue and finally part three exhausting dialogue.

Part one (factual dialogue)
Which shows a head made out of vegetables very similar to artist Arcimboldo heads see (image ), (Dimensions of Dialogue, 1982) tells the story of a head made out of vegetables moves across the landscape until it meets another head, constructed of kitchen objects (image ). The two attack each other, until one has been eaten by the other (image ), the winning head then vomits up the loser (image ), who takes on a form which is a rough hybrid of the two (image ). This goes on until both heads are identical bald human heads which then vomit multiple replicas of themselves (image ).

Part two (passionate dialogue)
The second dialogue in (Dimensions of Dialogue, 1982) tells a most common love story or a intimate encounter which turns horribly wrong. The animation begins with two full size clay figures, male and female, sitting opposite each other with a table between them (image ), they then reach over and begin to hold hands and then finally kiss see (image ) and soon develops into a passionate sexual act with both clay figures melting into each other giving you the feeling that this is of a sexual nature without intimate details (image ). After the sexual act both clay figures regain their original form at their respective side of the table, but they discover a small blob of clay in the middle of the table, what seems to be a baby, this blob of clay is seen to be rejected by both male and female figures (Image ), making you think this might be an unplanned baby? This eventually turns into a fight with both figures ripping each others face off in gruesome violent act (Image ).

Part three (exhausting dialogue)
The third dialogue in (Dimensions of Dialogue, 1982) shows two heads confronting each other (Image) but instead of speech the dialogue is shown through everyday objects see (Image), which at first the starts off peacefully by two objects that normally compliments the other seen in (Image), the toothbrush and toothpaste and the pencil and pencil sharpener, the other two natural pairs are a loaf of bread, butter knife, shoe and shoelace. The two heads then swap side’s seen in (Image) the next confrontation the dialogue is seen to start to collapse, this is shown through the non conforming images of the toothpaste being squeezed onto the loaf of bread as an indication they are started to disagree with each other seen in (Image). The following gestures start to become more bizzare and violet with toothbrush being sharpened by the pencil sharpener seen in (Image), and the pencil sharpeners attempting to sharpen each other (image ), the violet confrontation between the two heads end up with their tongues entering the confrontation, and the heads finally collapse in a mash of clay seen in (Image).