There Will Come Soft Rains
August 7, 2008 11:50 AM   Subscribe

1984 Soviet animation based on Ray Bradbury's shot story "There Will Come Soft Rains". WARNING: Depressing view on the future of mankind.
posted by Surfin' Bird (23 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I remember reading this story as a kid and in particular: The author at one point mentions the shapes of the family's silhouettes which are permanently burned onto the side of the house...

I was haunted by that image for a long time. Our house had a big blank white wall on one side side (outside) and I used to imagine our shadows on it. And I think of it every time I go in one of those "strobe booths" at the science museum.

All that said, the animation is atmospheric but seems to have made the, I think, poor choice to make it look futuristic and stylized. It should be homey and familiar, which would highlight the silence, uneaten food, ashes, etc.
posted by DU at 11:56 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Garrison Keillor recently read Teasdale's "There Will Come Soft Rains" for his Writer's Almanac podcast.
posted by The White Hat at 12:03 PM on August 7, 2008

posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:04 PM on August 7, 2008

>>WARNING: Depressing view on the future of mankind.

All the plausible ones are. What's hard to believe is that the people of this planet will ever stop killing and screwing one another over. Hope springs eternal, but the odds don't look good. History is a litany of crimes and victims, even *with* the propaganda. Something drastic would have to change for the future to be any different.
posted by SaintCynr at 12:22 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by cashman at 12:24 PM on August 7, 2008

When I read this story as a kid, the only thing that upset me was the dog. The humans didn't really suffer or anything and the poor dog had to suffer. I can't believe it was left out. But uh.. I am kind of glad that I didn't see it. All covered in sores and whatnot. And then the mice dispose of it. Shudder.

Thanks for posting. That was pretty damn creepy. The Viewmaster robot thing gave me the willies.
posted by giraffe at 12:33 PM on August 7, 2008


I love the story, but it feels to me like the animators really missed the point -- the pathos of all this automated machinery continuing to try to hold itself together long after its purpose has ended. Here they chose to [SPOILER ALERT] have the house literally nuke itself while trying to catch a bird, which would undermines the rest of the story even if it didn't also include such ham-handed imagery (the white bird, the crucifix, and the over-the-top explosion). [END SPOILER]

And while I think a futuristic setting could work, I rather agree with DU above that here the stylization competes with the mood instead of setting it.

I think this is a much more successful adaptation. (I seem to recall seeing a different CGI or film version of this story recently -- possibly posted here? -- which was even better, but I either can't find it or am imagining it.)
posted by ook at 12:55 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: Depressing view on the future of mankind.
posted by wheelieman at 12:56 PM on August 7, 2008

I seem to recall seeing a different CGI or film version of this story recently -- possibly posted here?

I saw it too - I couldn't find the post. It's here somewhere.
posted by cashman at 1:08 PM on August 7, 2008

Ook, thanks for that link, I really preferred that other version, even if the retro-robo arm thing in the Soviet one pushed some creepy-buttons (in a good way).
posted by Happy Dave at 1:10 PM on August 7, 2008

Wally Wood illustrated the definitive version (as far as I am concerned) for WEIRD SCIENCE back in the (E.C.) day... (couldn't find the whole version, so this is just the splash panel, sorry to say.)
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:23 PM on August 7, 2008

I sometimes feel like Russian Animation is designed to make you as uncomfortable as possible at all times. Either way, I love Bradbury and this story and this thread has been pretty outstanding for all the adaptations being shared. Yes, that includes the Russian one. Thanks, all.
posted by shmegegge at 1:57 PM on August 7, 2008

More Russian animation.

posted by edgeways at 2:57 PM on August 7, 2008

I'm glad this was posted, but that was a horrible adaptation of the original story.
posted by D.C. at 3:33 PM on August 7, 2008

What, you don't like MRS MAC-LENNNNANNNN?
posted by Happy Dave at 3:45 PM on August 7, 2008

Jeez. Everyone's focusing on how it wasn't that faithful, but shouldn't it serve more to illustrate the Uzbekistani outlook as of 1984, after Reagan's first term? I mean, that's pretty damn bleak as-is, but imagine you're an art student in one of the top-10 tactical nuclear strike areas in the world. I've been to that art school: it really is quite hipster now, so I bet it was pretty aware back then.

I'm noticing quite a bit in terms of cultural history in the narrative of the film itself. They chose to underscore the (still relevant) "Gilded Cage" Eastern political metaphor, rather than the "it could happen to your grandma" North American scare tactic used in most pulpy anti-nuclear writing of the day.
posted by electronslave at 7:16 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Once again, someone has gone back in time and retroactively stolen one of my brilliant ideas. Of course, since I was never going to do it, it's nice to have these. Excellent find!
posted by jinjo at 7:30 PM on August 7, 2008

I loved it, so unrelentingly brutal and heartbreaking, sensitive and cynical and naive and haunting and spiritual (like so much great Russian and Soviet art)
posted by Auden at 7:45 PM on August 7, 2008

electronslave, thanks for pointing out that bit of context.
posted by snsranch at 9:12 AM on August 8, 2008

Is the full text available somewhere online?
posted by btkuhn at 4:43 PM on August 8, 2008

This hadn't been posted before? Weird, I was sure MeFi was how I found it.

btkuhn, do you mean full text of Teasdale's poem, or its Russian translation, or Bradbury's story, or its Russian translation, or a transcript of the film? Bradbury's copyrights are managed pretty well in the States, so it's anyone's guess how long that English will stay up. Nobody's copyrights are really managed well in Russia, so it seems, so the Russian will stay up longer. And nobody seems to be representing Teasdale and pressing for removal of her works from the greatest library ever builtInternet, so that's pretty likely to stay around. I can't see any transcripts of the animation though.

Talking of the poem, I am awed by the delicacy of both the edit and the translation. Now that I've seen the poem without lines 8-11, putting them back in makes it seem a little droning (more precious talk about nature?) and a little ham-handed (no need to talk about war explicitly, much less "the" war). Meanwhile, the translation is brilliantly simple and faithful, but improved, по-моему, by being a little more plainspoken and less self-conscious. I absolutely adore the last couplet:
И весна… и Весна встретит новый рассвет
Не заметив, что нас уже нет.
The defective meter in the last line was a master stroke; all the pathos and all the peace of the post-human world seem to echo in its broken rhythms and missing syllables. I have not been able to learn who translated it, but I think whoever it was outshines Ms. Teasdale herself there. Simply beautiful work, both as poetry and as translation.

P.S.: Huzzah! In the related links, Полигон. That I know I did see on MeFi, but I've been trying to search it up again and I just couldn't find it. Thanks, Surfin' Bird.
posted by eritain at 12:57 AM on August 9, 2008

Sometimes, a big glaring factual error can ruin the rest of it for me. Such as: the house has supposedly been doing this for ages — this didn't just happen yesterday. So the ash imprints would've crumbled into the shoes the first time it raised the beds.

(And, of course, we do "Auld Lang Syne," not the national anthem, at the new year. But that was presumably due to a crosscultural thing.)
posted by WCityMike at 12:05 PM on August 10, 2008

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