Yellow Crocodiles and Blue Oranges

Yellow Crocodiles and Blue Oranges: Russian Animated Film since World War II

David MacFadyen
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zws1
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  • Book Info
    Yellow Crocodiles and Blue Oranges
    Book Description:

    MacFadyen further analyses Soviet animation through phenomenology, arguing that the latter is a viable alternative not only to dogmatic Marxism but also to the ideological vacuum of post-Soviet times. The book includes a comprehensive bibliography and filmography as well as a rich collection of images.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7272-0
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: SOCIALISM AND THE BIG-HEARTED SILLINESS OF SOVIET POPULAR CULTURE
    (pp. xi-xx)

    Forest and dale abound with visions ... In places like this, gallant knights are victorious over mighty evil wizards and they release bewitched, beautiful maidens from captivity. Grey wolves and swift-winged hawks, golden fish and white swans serve valiant heroes with fidelity. Look — there’s an ancient oak, covered in moss. Suddenly it turns into a little, wizened old man. An ugly frog, having shed its green skin, turns into Vasilisa the Beautiful. Since their earliest years, our children in the Soviet Union have taken journeys to these secret and wonderful worlds of the fairy tale. Their first books are fairy...

  5. PART ONE THE PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIALIST STATUS OF THE ANIMATED EPOCHÉ

    • 1 IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF SOVIET ANIMATION AN ANOMALY?
      (pp. 3-13)

      Here we begin our study with a two-part hypothetical methodology defining an aesthetic and social worldview both within and beyond socialism. Soviet animation, I propose, was not an anomaly, but was busy with ideas and practices that are, to our surprise, indicative of a widespread multiplicity in Soviet culture, hidden or simplified for decades by Cold War oratory. In other words, regardless of what the Communist Party said, its cultural arbiters were actually doing something else. I will try to show exactly what that was, but we must reach a point where we ask if anywhere else in world culture...

    • 2 CARTOGRAPHY: MAPPING THE STATUS OF PHENOMENOLOGY IN THE SOVIET UNION
      (pp. 14-28)

      This second half of our opening rubric is designed to show how phenomenology was received in the Soviet Union, how it survived at all in that political environment and remains perhaps a fine, simultaneous philosophy for Russian animation, sensed inside socialist journalism. We will be focusing upon Husserl and Heidegger from the days of the early school, followed by Sartre to represent the shift towards existential emphases. Passing reference will be made to Arendt, Levinas, and Merleau-Ponty, as before, and to Derrida. Husserlian thought saw little space in the Soviet Press until the late Thaw or early Stagnation under Brezhnev,...

  6. PART TWO THE PROVENANCE OF ANIMATED PHENOMENOLOGY

    • 3 SEVERAL PARADOXES OF SOVIET REALISM AND DISNEY’S UNEXPECTED ALTERNATIVE
      (pp. 31-61)

      This book shows how Soviet animation went about its business in a way that suggests a type of selfhood confounding our expectations of dictatorial cultures. In justifying this approach, we must focus upon responses to the films within the USSR, hence the increasing emphasis across this monograph upon Soviet mass media and journalistic work in both promoting and assessing cartoons. To ignore the Russian responses to Russian films would lead us simply to the imposition of our own culturally specific theories from afar. We need to show that – despite dogma – even the supposedly censured and censorious media of Russion newspapers...

    • 4 THE ANNALS OF SOVIET ANIMATION: CONSCIOUSNESS VERSUS HISTORICISM
      (pp. 62-102)

      Thus far we have passed through a wide-ranging hypothesis of how a major socialist art form may actually be the closer kindred spirit of another worldview (phenomenology) and in addition may reveal more of a debt to Disney’s work than to anything confidently, dogmatically communist. There are certainly potential parallels between the forgiving, inclusively social sentiment of Disney’s work and the overcoming of any subject/object divide in phenomenology. One enters a supremely natural social state, excluding nobody and nothing. “Squash and stretch” even reduces rhe divide between animate and inanimate so that existence becomes a machinic matter of affect, of...

  7. PART THREE JOURNALISM AND THE VOX POPULI

    • 5 REALISM: THE PRESS AND PUBLIC RESPOND
      (pp. 105-122)

      To a large degree, history books record and employ existing attitudes. If, having passed through such books, we now spend some time looking at various responses to animated films from both moviegoers and periodicals, we will see how those recorded attitudes were initially formed. Journalists both give us a swift response to artistic practices (often within twenty-four hours in the dailies) and play a major part in promoting them with sneak previews and interviews. In a dictatorial society such as the USSR, newspapers and magazines are much nearer to centres of political power and should logically reflect the censured and...

    • 6 ORIGINALITY: INNOVATION AND THE TENACITY OF LOGOCENTRISM AND PROFITEERING
      (pp. 123-140)

      The death of Stalin occurred amid a number of equally unsettling events in politics and culture. Perhaps the most amazing of all was the emergence of outrage among political prisoners in several labour camps all the way from the Arctic to Kazakhstan. Moral disgust at the excessive cruelty of camp commandants led to strikes and the negotiation of newer, novel living conditions by inmates themselves. Things had to be done in new and fairer ways. The prickly problems of innovation span the entire period of this study. Two key articles of 1953, for example, delineated the issue of novelty in...

    • 7 HUMOUR: MINOR MODES AND MAJOR POLITICS
      (pp. 141-154)

      Cartoons in the Soviet Union advocated – in the words of one publication – universal love, but not universally acknowledged invariable forms of being. They depicted recognizable ostensible reality, but in doing so (through folded or affected rhythms of change) endowed those depictions with a potential for an original animated makeover: “Everything’s possible in cartoons! But that freedom is a heavy cross to bear. Let’s recall two terms for what we do:mul’tiplikatsiia,as we say here, and the accepted term elsewhere in the world, ‘animation’[animatsiia].Read them metaphorically and there’s an evident dilemma: they mean [the challenge] to ‘multiply’ each...

    • 8 MUSIC: THE REMARKABLE, KIND LAWS OF THE “LAND OF ANIMATION”
      (pp. 155-170)

      Here in this final brief chapter we will be examining less the phenomenon of music in the literal sense than the way artists speak of an imaginative use of “harmony,” the “absolute hearing” with which they perceive processes of musical counterpoint and rhythmic multiplicity in a cartoon. During the Thaw, for example, asThe Jetsonsbegan on American television, lyrical poeticism was looking to express visually the way “line and colour acquire the power to summon laughter, tears, and serious thought.”¹ Music in this sense is perhaps the source (or at least amplifier) of the affective forces of signification, movement,...

  8. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 171-178)

    In 1993, prior to the release of Disney’s record-breakingLion King,a vote was taken among the most famous of Russian animation’s old school artists, its leading lights of the establishment, to discover the greatest works of all time, their own aesthetic record-breakers. The most successful heroes were deemed Cheburashka and the wolf from “Just You Wait!” The best films included several discussed in our study: “Crane Feathers,” “Hedgehog in the Fog,” “Holidays in Prostokvashino,” and “Tale of Tales.”¹ As the canon was put together again after the intrusions of Soviet politics, one had to wonder if these votes were...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 179-200)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 201-232)
  11. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 233-242)
  12. SCREENPLAYS
    (pp. 243-252)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 253-256)