I found this amazing website with a huge (well over 100GB) collection of multiki – Soviet era cartoons. To those readers who don’t know: Soviet Union had a wonderful and unique animated movies industry. Some movies produced by it, such as “Twelve Months” and “The Snow Queen” are considered very influential; Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of the much-loved “Spirited Away”, cites it as an important source of inspiration, for example. Many styles are represented: Russian fairy tales, adaptations of foreign children and adult literature, Greek mythology, science fiction, nature, etc.
I’m downloading like there’s no tomorrow. As i’m watching them now, i understand how clever many of them were, much deeper than i would understand as a child.
The one that made me cry is a Latvian science-fiction short film Fantadrom (see below if the download fails). I remember watching it as a kid and not understanding the plot so much, although i liked the pretty pictures and the main character, a cat-shaped robot called Indriķis XIII (which could be translated as Henry the 13th, but Indriķis sounds much more cyberpunk). So, as i am watching it now, i get it – the plot really is not so deep, it’s mostly about the style, the fantasy (hence the title), and the music, which is just great. Progressive rock lovers might love it, especially those who are into synth gurus such as Neu! or Tony Banks. Of course, i also appreciated the usage of Latvian and Russian; it is ridiculous that astronauts of the future will use these two as their main languages, but that’s what makes the movie charming.
It made me cry, because towards the end, the cat robot dies and is buried on an asteroid where he died, with a simple tombstone:
and the translation:
SAVING A HUMAN
A tombstone of a cute robot cat in the middle of a cartoon for children. Those Soviets were just something.
A pretty heavy message for a children’s cartoon, don’t you think? Especially considering that cat robot is so cute.
Download instructions: If you are outside of Russia, try downloading between 4am and 10am Moscow time. Also, turn off advanced download manager features, such as “multipart”, “segmented”, “download acceleration” etc. If you’ve got trouble and don’t know Russian, don’t hesitate to ask me.
Oh (edit): Spoiler follows. After 22 years i finally understood why does the Indriķis XIII die and how he comes back to life. He sees that a human is going to die because he’s running out of oxygen, so he takes a ball that gives him life out of himself and converts it to trees that created oxygen. Makes sense, right? And then another cat alien comes and gives Indriķis XIII another ball that makes him alive again. Lovely.