Tuesday. Africa. Lion o'clock.
May 26, 2012 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Every child comes equipped with
(Whether it's a boy or girl)
A big serving of explosives
Might be up to half a pound
They must be in constant motion
Push, and kick, and flail, and shout
If they can't, they just explode
Bang! Kaboom! Your luck's run out. [includes Soviet animation and baby monkeys]

"Beware of Monkeys" is a series of dialog-free cartoons about five little monkeys and their loving, resourceful, but hopelessly overworked mother.

The monkeys first appeared in Гирлянда из малышей | A Garland of Toddlers (1983, 8 min.) that paired them with a troop of kindergartners and their easily distracted nanny.

The next episode Осторожно, обезьянки! | Beware of Monkeys! (linked above, 9 min.) appeared in 1984. It was followed up in 1987 by
Как обезьянки обедали | The Monkeys Eat Dinner
Обезьянки и грабители | The Monkeys and the Robbers
Several sequels followed after the fall of USSR, adding unnecessary voices and self-conscious slapstick stylings:
Обезьянки, вперед! | Monkeys, Go! (1993, 8 min.)
Обезьянки в опере | Monkeys at the Opera (1995, 9 min.)
Обезьянки: скорая помощь | Monkeys: Ambulance (1998, 10 min.)
The background music was provided by Andrey Makarevich's «Машина времени» | Time Machine, one of Russia's oldest continually active rock bands (founded around 1970). Some representative pieces: Поворот | "New Turn" (fan video), Костер | "The Bonfire" (live), Марионетки | "Puppets" (live).

Among other things, Makarevich is a poet and memoirist, a mixed media artist, and occasional TV personality (hosting Смак | Savor, a long-running show that combined cookery with occasional celebrity interviews). In recent times, Makarevich has been an on-again, off-again Kremlin supporter. He is still recording.
posted by Nomyte (8 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
posted by scalefree at 10:33 AM on May 26, 2012

I think I missed something in that first video - why is one of those baby monkeys the Red Skull?
posted by elizardbits at 10:37 AM on May 26, 2012

Needs more hedgehog in fog.
posted by Fizz at 10:40 AM on May 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Trying to work out the symbolism of these cartoons; but they seem to be just plain old "cartoons". No hidden meanings here. Right? IDK, draw your own conclusions.
posted by PipRuss at 11:34 AM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

It seems like it's meant to be cute and fun... my take on them is that the author had a gentle heart and was being a little silly, with no underlying message. Sort of like Loonie Tunes, but non-verbal, and done to a lower quality standard. The actual animation is quite good in spots, but it's uneven.

I think it may have been intended as the Russian equivalent of the Berenstain Bears. It definitely doesn't feel like a propaganda piece. Things were opening up in Russia at the time, and this may have been sort of a harbinger of glasnost.
posted by Malor at 12:27 PM on May 26, 2012

Oops, sorry: Looney Toons. Loonie Toons must be the Canadian flavor.
posted by Malor at 12:28 PM on May 26, 2012

> It definitely doesn't feel like a propaganda piece.

Of course it's not a "propaganda piece"! Do people really think that everything produced in the Soviet Union was propaganda? They always had great kids' books and animation.

> they seem to be just plain old "cartoons"

posted by languagehat at 8:33 AM on May 27, 2012

I liked that the monkey is allowed to leave the zoo, but has to show a permit first.

I guess you can read some Soviet stylings into that if you're determined to, though it may also just be a bump in the anthropomorphizing.
posted by RobotHero at 1:14 PM on May 27, 2012

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