Soviet Era Art
May 2, 2007 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Metafilter's own Fake, Dan Reetz, recently spent several months in the former Soviet Union; while there he managed to round up this great selection of Soviet Movie posters from 1921-1973, as well as this interesting 1952 set of food drawings from the government produced book "Tasty & Healthy Eating." Finally, bonus content for anyone jonesing for more soviet content, this Russian Winnie the Pooh cartoon from the 1970s is fantastic. (via)
posted by jonson (29 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
They totally skipped the part where Rabbit draws a face on Pooh's butt, but otherwise pretty cool.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:49 AM on May 2, 2007

VERY cool!!!
posted by miss lynnster at 11:51 AM on May 2, 2007

I am consumed by an over-whelming desire to own the posters.
posted by popechunk at 11:52 AM on May 2, 2007

Hey, I have a t-shirt of this one.

Nice post, comrade!
posted by languagehat at 12:07 PM on May 2, 2007

I can't stop looking at the food illustrations... They're beautiful, but stark and creepy at the same time... I keep trying to think of an appropriate adjective to describe them, but one escapes me.
posted by amyms at 12:13 PM on May 2, 2007

The food book in question is famous (or infamous). Many older Russians I know think of it as an example of the way life was in the "good old days." Many more think of it as an example of laughable propaganda. There were huge famines in the USSR in 1921, 1932-33 and 1946-47. In 1952, there was still hunger in much of the Soviet Union. Few of the foods pictured were available outside "show" stores in Moscow.
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:26 PM on May 2, 2007

Wow, thanks jonson.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to share the single most beautiful Soviet cartoon ever produced. I was thinking about posting it to projects with some other movies, but now that this post is up...

Yozhik v tumane
(hedgehog in the fog) is the story of a little hedgehog who was going to meet his friend, the bear, to count the stars (and drink tea). He gets lost in the fog.

It is really one of the most beautiful cartoons I have ever seen. I just put it up at:

I have many other Soviet cartoons and films, and I hope to share them with the Internet sometime soon. But really, watch this film. It's absolutely gorgeous.
posted by fake at 12:30 PM on May 2, 2007 [6 favorites]


These are really cool.
posted by kosher_jenny at 12:32 PM on May 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Wow, there's a lot of great images there. Thanks!
posted by picea at 12:36 PM on May 2, 2007

Unidentified Substance with Egg. Yum!
posted by squalor at 12:47 PM on May 2, 2007

ya tabla lubu, whinee the poo, tabla lubu.
posted by French Fry at 12:51 PM on May 2, 2007

Incredible! Thanks!
posted by tiger yang at 1:00 PM on May 2, 2007

A+ fake. Thanks.
posted by vronsky at 1:16 PM on May 2, 2007

Methinks that 'hedgehog in the fog' was an influence on Bjork's "Human Behaviour" video. Anybody else seeing that?
posted by stinkycheese at 1:18 PM on May 2, 2007

Excellent post, and excellent digging by fake.

Gold (or should that be red?) stars all around.
posted by briank at 1:35 PM on May 2, 2007

Not only is this a super post - thanks very much - but I admire and enjoy how the posters are presented. No clicky for next, no long hauls through intermediate guff, just one big page with perfectly sized thumbnails and nothing but.

We have broadband. We have big screens. We are impatient. We want information. Information.

Some sort of perfection has been achieved here. World, take note.
posted by Devonian at 1:45 PM on May 2, 2007

I always enjoy soviet era visuals.
posted by absalom at 1:46 PM on May 2, 2007

i'm loving that poster for orson welles' othello.
posted by cazoo at 1:47 PM on May 2, 2007

I really enjoyed the Hedgehog in the Fog clip - but the quicktime seems to conspicuously cut off at 1:59 (it doesn't seem like that's the end). Is it supposed to go further?

Thanks again both Fake and Jonson!!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 1:56 PM on May 2, 2007

Just noticed an outlier in terms of the dates—Drankov's Stenka Razin, the first Russian feature film, was made in 1908, and while I don't know what year the poster is from, it's definitely prerevolutionary (note the ъ at the end of "Стенька-Разинъ"—it was abolished in 1918), so the "1921-1973" needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Drankov, incidentally, was quite a character. He was running a small photo studio in St. Petersburg when he decided to get into the movie business; he borrowed some money, went to London, and bought the latest equipment, then got himself appointed the Russian correspondent for The Times, in which capacity he gained access to the new State Duma and became a regular photographer there. In 1907 he opened Russia's first movie studio and became a tireless entrepreneur and promoter, advertising "Filmed reels! Topical plots! Events inside Russia and in the outlying regions!" He filmed a flophouse in Moscow and made a torn-from-the-headlines flick called "The Has-Beens: Gorky-Type Characters," to capitalize on the success of Gorky's "The Lower Depths"; he filmed fires, cholera epidemics, and railroad crashes; he even got himself invited to Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy's estate, to film the old geezer's 80th birthday celebration, and managed to film him again in 1910, just before his death. Stenka Razin, crude as it was ("In the last, tragic scene, the actors, poorly made up, rush in with daggers and goblets in their hands. They grimace and roll their eyes"), was a huge success and started a craze for filmed versions of the classics. After the Revolution he turned up in Constantinople, where he organized a "flea-hopping" attraction; in 1922 he's said to have moved to America, where he bought a movie van and toured state after state. He's thought to have died somewhere around 1949. (If you read Russian, here's the Vikipediya article.) Man, I wish someone would dig up the facts and write a good biography of this guy.
posted by languagehat at 2:44 PM on May 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yozhik v tumane looks as though it was the inspiration for Bjork's "Human Behavior" video...
posted by horsemuth at 2:59 PM on May 2, 2007

Hrm, there does seem to be a problem with the QT clip -- I'm trying to encode another copy, I'll upload it and post here again when I do. Sorry about that-- there is definitely a lot more to it.

Regarding Human Behavior, it *has* to be connected. Wow. I'd never seen Gondry's version, but man. The connections are eerie.

Languagehat, regarding dates, I thought I'd taken that poster out. ;) I will change the dates next time I update the site.
posted by fake at 3:50 PM on May 2, 2007

I also notice a reference to the USSR (on the moon flag scene) in Human Behavior. There must be a connection. Any Gondry fans know anything?
posted by fake at 3:55 PM on May 2, 2007

I really enjoyed the Hedgehog in the Fog clip - but the quicktime seems to conspicuously cut off at 1:59 (it doesn't seem like that's the end). Is it supposed to go further?
Yes, the original is about 10 minutes.

Norstein is amazing - his 'Tale of Tales' is my favourite animation ever.
posted by kickingtheground at 5:40 PM on May 2, 2007

"Man, I wish someone would dig up the facts and write a good biography of this guy."

I might just take you up on that l-hat. And when I sell the movie rights for a million dollars I'll send you... a hat (and it serves you right for calling Tolstoy an old geezer!)

I made a pilgrimage to Yasnaya Polyana once, I was looking for the little green stick. I found it buried at the edge of a ravine, and I was ecstatic. Now I would know the secret of supreme happiness! But then I remembered I don't read russian, so I dug a small hole and placed the little green stick back in the ground, danced like a cossack, and went home.
posted by vronsky at 6:30 PM on May 2, 2007

Awesome. Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 9:07 PM on May 2, 2007

In Soviet Union, Vinny Puh animates YOU.
posted by psmealey at 5:13 AM on May 3, 2007

The guy in this poster is a dead ringer for Doug Stanhope.
posted by basilwhite at 10:03 AM on May 3, 2007

These are wonderful. I wish they were captioned, for the Russian-impaired among us.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:05 AM on May 3, 2007

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