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Soviet/Russian Animation (Cartoons) Era

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From gentle lively images of old classic cartoons with positive messages to simplified anime without much meaning and to violent characters.


TV cartoons and shows can effect children of different ages.

Nowadays, unlike just several decades ago, every house has several TV sets in possession (you will laugh, but I know a house where even a rest room has a small TV in it. Just imagine- watching your favorite show sitting on a "throne").

Many kids have their own TV in their rooms.

Children of different ages comprehend the world around them in different ways.

Depending on their range of attention and emotional inclinations, children can acquire certain store of energy from television broadcasting even if they don't pay direct attention to an operating TV set.

Violent sounds, ugly images and negatively exciting content may influence the toddler's pattern of viewing habits for later years and throughout life. Very often children tend to identify with a TV show or a cartoon hero. Kids become more aggressive and violent after watching violent forced content.

Sadly, but nowadays violent or just stupid content is pervasive in modern television and the role of parents who really care about their children's mental and social health is to serve as mediators of their children's viewing patterns.

Loving and caring parents should not only filter and chose TV programs, cartoons and movies that their children are watching, but also parents have to participate in watching and discussing the content.

With toddlers and preschoolers parents should be the sole censors of what their kids are watching. With children of school age, when parents often times are unable to monitor kids' viewing patterns, it is very important that parents will discuss, explain, and challenge television, encouraging their growing children to analyze and question, to become more selective and self-educating.

All Soviet cartoons with very rare exceptions were sweet, kind and emotionally positive.

"Malchish-Kibalchish", one of the first Soviet patriotic cartoons. But as a rule, children cartoons were not politicized.

"Malchish-Kibalchish", one of the first Soviet patriotic cartoons. But as a rule, children cartoons were not politicized.

"Little mirror"- a sweet cartoon with a strong message.

"Little mirror"- a sweet cartoon with a strong message.

Russian fairy tale "Twelve months"

Russian fairy tale "Twelve months"

Russian Santa Claus- Grandpa Frost

Russian Santa Claus- Grandpa Frost

"Ugly duckling"

"Ugly duckling"

"Kashtanka", based on Chechov's book.

"Kashtanka", based on Chechov's book.

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My Soviet childhood cartoons.

As any medal has two sides, growing up in a socialistic country had both disadvantages and positive aspects as well.

On the one hand an "iron curtain" wouldn't allow Soviet people to know the difference. We didn't know that people in a capitalistic world had real choices that we didn't have. We were raised to think, act and behave according the pattern that was made for us by the government. We "lived in a jail" (figuratively speaking), where we were provided roof and food. We didn't know better. People worked, getting miserable pocket allowances for their salary. Highly educated specialists were paid the same money as unskilled laborers. The country was rich, the people were equally poor.

On the other hand, we lived a highly motivated and rich emotional life. Iron curtain that didn't allow us to know the good side of life in a capitalistic society also protected us from violence and negativeness of a free world.

People in the Soviet Union read a lot. Even now Russia is considered the most reading country. People read everywhere- in buses, in metro trains, on the bus stops, in lines. When people do not have much choices they tend to go towards self-education.

Old Russian movies though simple and naïve, were also positive and as a rule well done professionally.

Movies for children were no doubt very patriotic and brainwashing in their majority. However, children cartoons were very educational, positive and made with high quality. The majority of Soviet cartoons were created by talented people and that's why the cartoons themselves were highly talented in their nature.

Soviet cartoons were created not for mere profit, as the majority of foreign cartoons are made nowadays. Even Russian contemporary cartoons are made now mostly for the profit and therefore they lack individuality, have no strong message and mostly mirror the foreign market tendency. The cartoon creators cannot take a risk of making a non-profitable cartoon.

During Soviet era, cartoon industry was state-funded and if a cartoon did not go, it was just signed off. Many really talented cartoons were also "put on the shelf" because of their bold message that government censorship would not approve, but this is another story (another side of the medal).

Nevertheless, the majority (if not all) of Soviet cartoons that were on the screen at that time were positive, sweet, sentimental, with strong message.

When we moved to Israel, I took several VHS tapes with old good Soviet cartoons. My son also grew up on those cartoons, together with the best choice of Hebrew and American cartoons (Disney cartoons mostly). I was very selective and until his preteens I was pretty much monitoring what he was watching on TV and what he was reading.

I know many families of immigrants from Soviet Union who prefer to raise their foreign-born children on old Soviet cartoons and I completely understand the reason.

I've read somewhere that Pope John Paul II said, "If you want to bring up your children in a humane way show them Soviet cartoons." I don't know how authenticated it is, but even if the Pope didn't say this, it is so.

When Facebook suggested to post an image of a character from a cartoon that we enjoyed in the childhood as a profile picture, I had a hard choice. Mentally I went through many cartoons of my childhood. Many, many of them deserve the honor.

Sweet, quiet, loyal Hedgehog.

Hedgehog in the Fog

Hedgehog in the Fog

Everything looks so different in the fog....

Everything looks so different in the fog....

"Isn't it wonderful that we are together again?"

"Isn't it wonderful that we are together again?"

A monument to little Hedgehog appeared in Kiev, Ukraine.

A monument to little Hedgehog appeared in Kiev, Ukraine.

My most favorite cartoon from many favorite Soviet cartoons

"Hedgehog in the Fog"

This is a very touching story about a friendship of a little Hedgehog and a Bear cub who used to meet together every evening at Bear cub's place.

They would sit outside by the bonfire made with Juniper Twigs, drink tea from a Samovar and count stars in the night sky.

One night a little Hedgehog got lost in the fog in the woods while walking to Bear cub.

Everything looks different in the fog, the whole world takes magic aspects, every little sound and image is distorted and frightening, but at the same time attractive and magical.

Hedgehog makes his way in the surreal world of the fog, exploring and wondering.

He encounters many creatures; frightening moths and bats, a "psycho" Owl (as Hedgehog calls him- psich/псих in Russian), but also peaceful and even helpful images (snail, dog, white horse and a mysterious "Somebody" who saves him when he fells in the river).

The sounds and images are comprehended differently in the fog, putting every aspect to a different perspective. Little Hedgehog is all alone in the surreal world, but he makes his way out to a friendly place of Bear cub.

Bear cub is looking for Hedgehog, because he is worried. Finally they sit together by the fire and everything is so quiet and serene.

The author of the animation is Yuri Norshtein. The cartoon was based on a great book written by Sergey Kozlov. Later, a printed version of the cartoon was also published with the images from the cartoon.

Both, a book and a cartoon became classic. Children and adults are equally fascinated by them.

The cartoon has some special awards:

  • 1976—Frunze All-Union Film Festival: Hedgehog in the Fog "best animated film"
  • 1976—Tehran Children's and Youth Film Festival: Hedgehog in the Fog "best animated film"
  • 2003—Tokyo All time animation best 150 in Japan and Worldwide: Hedgehog in the Fog "№1 Animated film of all the time"

Several generations grew up on this touching and kind cartoon with strong messages.
In January 2009 the character of Hedgehog in the Fog even acquired a monument. It was made in Kiev, capital of Ukraine.

Hedgehog in the Fog (Yuri Norshteyn, 1975)

Uncle Fedor meets cat Matroskin

Uncle Fedor meets cat Matroskin


"The Three from Buttermilk Village"

Though "Hedgehog in the Fog" is my most favorite, I can list more of great cartoons from Soviet era of animation, and the list will be very long.

I will name just several of them that to my mind should become world wide known. Any generation in any country will benefit from growing up on these cartoons.

I still keep at home Soviet cartoons, but I purchased DVD versions to keep up with the progress. I watch them with my son from time to time.

"Troe iz Prostokvashino"- "The Three from Buttermilk village" is another my favorite. There are three parts of the cartoon. In the first cartoon, a boy whom everybody including his parents call "Uncle Fedor" meets a cat in the stair cage of his apartment building, who goes by his last name Matroskin (Sailor's). Since Uncle Fedor's parents wouldn't allow him to have a cat in the apartment, a boy and a cat along with a stray dog Sharik (Little Ball) settle in the village of Prostokvashino (Buttermilk). All the images are very special. Uncle Fedor is very serious for his age, cat Matroskin is bossy and philosophical, dog Sharik is simple and hardworking. The cartoon is full of funny dialogs with deep meaning. Many expressions from "The Three from Prostokvashino" became folk wisdom and people quote them in everyday life.

If you like the first part of the cartoon, you can find on Youtube the other two parts as well.

Cheburashka, Crocodile Gena and Shapokliak

Cheburashka, Crocodile Gena and Shapokliak

Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Kid and Karlson

Kid and Karlson

"Just you wait!"

"Just you wait!"

There are so many more great Soviet cartoons worth of becoming world wide known!

One of the most famous characters from Soviet cartoons is, probably, Cheburashka, "a creature unknown to science".

The cartoon is based on a book by Eduard Uspenskyi.

Cheburashka is a very friendly creature from tropical forests. He accidentally arrives to Soviet Union in a box with oranges. He looks for friends and finds them in a girl Galia and Crocodile Gena. An old mischievous lady Shapokliak with a pocket rat Lariska makes lots of hardships to the friends, but they always come out the winners. The cartoon is very kind, with great music and songs.

Soviet animation also has several cartoons based on foreign origins.

Winnie the Pooh stands apart from them, because of the translation of the classical book made by great master of unexpected humor Boris Zahoder. The images are great and Zahoder's translation made the cartoon special for many generations.

"Karlson on the Roof", a book by Astrid Lindgren (a Swedish children's book author and screenwriter) got a new life with a Soviet cartoon "Kid and Karlson, who lives on the roof".

There are so many more of Soviet era children cartoons worth of mentioning that the list will be very long. But one cartoon, or rather a whole long serial of cartoons should be mentioned, because long ago it became classic.

"just you wait!" (Nu, pogodi!) is series of funny episodes about adventures of a mischievous but charismatic wolf the hooligan, who tries to catch (and probably eat) a small innocent hare. The series is mostly musical, with very little speech if at all, but with lots of music and songs of that time.

I remember how we laughed watching these episodes. Though the cartoon tells about basically not nice plans of a Wolf, but there is no violence there whatsoever. The humor is brilliant and sparkling.

Our Soviet cartoons DVDs and a book "Hedgehog in the Fog"


© 2010 ReuVera


ReuVera (author) from USA on May 15, 2013:

Oh, Zii.... I am so sorry for you....

Zii on May 14, 2013:

Oh and I forgot to add, I remember almost nothing of the lessons. Like, at ALL. I had no idea what they were about. I just remember watching them. So don't show it to your kids if they're under the age of 6, they won't pick much up.

Zii on May 14, 2013:

Ugh. I got so sick of Russian cartoons. Yes some of them were good but due to the limit of what my mom actually showed us, we watched most of these hundreds of times. I swear, I can still hear and reenact the monologue from each series in my head.

Onusonus on November 12, 2012:

Good cause to support. I like to watch Karelson, and more recently Masha and Medved.

ReuVera (author) from USA on November 12, 2012:

Hi, Maria Luisa. Thank you for stopping by. I have no idea what cartoon you are talking about.... I do not recollect any of the kind I with dark forces). Dark spirited cartoons were absolutely not typical for soviet era... I will try and search though and if I find anything, I will let you know.

There was a cartoon based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen "The Snow Queen" where a cold and ice-hearted snow queen abducted a little boy (but before he got a piece of ice into his eye that went int his heart and made him mean). His older sister went through hardships to find him and rescued him with the help of friends she made on the road.... The defeated the snow queen too.... But that cartoon (and movie) was very good spirited....

MariaLuisa on November 12, 2012:

Hi, my name is María Luisa, I'm from Venezuela. When I was growing up, the state channel, VTV, always played a russian animated movie that was very dark, it was about a boy fighting a very slim and beautiful witch or evil queen, dressed in black, who has abducted a girl, the witch has some demons with her and lived in a castle, finnally the boy defeated the witch and she becames mad, ugly and started to crawl, it was a very dark movie but I enjoyed it a lot, and watched every time it was played... Is it possible that you can help me identifying it? I would love to find it! I was looking for it for years, so I can watch it again. Thank you!

Shalah Chayil from Billings, Montana on May 22, 2012:

Such and interesting and lovely piece of writing and information.

ReuVera (author) from USA on November 13, 2011:

Thank you, Derdriu! The Soviet cartoons were produced by very talented artists not for profit, but for the sake of art. I am very happy that you found something new for yourself in my hub. I appreciate your visit.

Derdriu on November 13, 2011:

RueVera: What a lively collection of unexpectedly charming cartoons ironically produced during the survivalist years of the former Soviet Union! It is wonderful to have the general historical background to the troubled times of the cartoons' production as well as the brief summary and outstanding attractions of each animated endeavor.

Thank you for sharing, voted up, etc.,


ReuVera (author) from USA on June 05, 2011:

Martie, thank you for visiting and commenting! I hope you'll be able to find cartoons with English subtitles. Or, maybe you know Russian?

Martie Coetser from South Africa on June 05, 2011:

ReuVera, I am so glad I've found this most interesting hub via A.A. Zavala. During the first seven years of a person's life basic perceptions are established that influence his/her view on life forever. Oh, I can write a book, being a victim of fairy tales about princesses and princes! From now on I'm going to buy only Soviet cartoons for my grandchildren.

ReuVera (author) from USA on May 25, 2011:

Oh, Jagodka, I remember Polish cartoons about Bolek and Lolek! How cute! Probably Soviet Union was buying Polish cartoons. We loved them!

Jagodka on May 25, 2011:

I mostly watched Disney cartoons but I did see some Polish cartoons like Bobek i Lolek and Reksio. I came to the U.S. when I was two so I can't remember watching any cartoons there. But luckily there use to be a Polish video store close by and my parents rented from them. But Soviet cartoons are adorable! If I ever have children I'd like them growing up with them rather than whatever Nickelodean or Cartoon Network pulls out of their @$$ nowadays.

ReuVera (author) from USA on May 20, 2011:

TL, thank you. I am sure your Russian-speaking friend knows this cartoon. Even in translation, there is a lot of really funny expressions there. For instance: "We don't have money" - "Let's sell something that we don't need" - "In order to sell something that we don't need, first we have to buy something that we don't need, but we don't have money".


Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on May 19, 2011:

I think you may be right, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate it. I am going to direct a great friend of mine, a Russian girl/lady towards it. I am sure she will love the hub.

ReuVera (author) from USA on May 19, 2011:

tipoague and Amy, thank you for your comments, I appreciate your visit very much!

TL, you are missing a lot. It's a great cartoon with tremendous humor and under current meaning. But, maybe, you should know Russian to really appreciate and understand this masterpiece.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on May 18, 2011:

The Hedgehog in the mist, I loved, but the Boy the Cat and the Dog!!! What am I missing?

Amy Becherer from St. Louis, MO on May 18, 2011:

Oh, I was so hoping I could find a copy of the illustrated "Hedgehog in the Fog". I adore the story and the art. Thank you ReuVera and Augustine for this introduction to such an endearing story. I remember seeing "Bambi" and the gunshot in the background letting every viewer know that Bambi's mother was gone was the most violence I remember on the screen. Time, for better or worse, marches on. Great hub, ReuVera. Thank you!

Tammy on May 17, 2011:

These are enjoyable cartoons. I grew up watching Disney movies and when I had my children, I did the same. I still have many of them that I had collected over the years. I even kept one of my favorite children's books about a squirrel named Squeaky and his many adventures. Thank you for sharing this.

ReuVera (author) from USA on December 05, 2010:

A.A., I love this cartoon. It sets you to a special set of mood every time you watch it. Thanks to Youtube, many old good cartoons can be found there.

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on December 05, 2010:

I was enthralled by the "Hedhog in the Fog" clip". I wish these would be more available and accessible to everyone. Thanks for sharing.

ReuVera (author) from USA on December 05, 2010:

Hi, Gypsy Willow. I am glad to meet you. Your grandchildren will enjoy and benefit from watching these cartoons. You can read subtitles for them, and with "Just you wait" you don't need translations! "Just you wait!" is a type of Tom&Jerry cartoon. Sometimes your sympathies are with poor wolf who gets into so much mischiefs because of being a troublemaker.

Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on December 05, 2010:

Awesome hub. Thank you for introducing me to these beautiful "simple" cartoons. I especially love "The Hedgehog in the Fog". With young grandchildren it is exciting to find a whole new genre of entertainment so suitable for them.

ReuVera (author) from USA on December 05, 2010:

Lynda, thank you for reading and commenting. Comment from you means a lot.

lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on December 05, 2010:

I knew nothing about soviet cartoons (or much of anything else about the Ex Soviet Union, so thanks for the education. Lynda

ReuVera (author) from USA on December 05, 2010:

Vladimir, thank you.

ReuVera (author) from USA on December 05, 2010:

moncrieff, thank you for your great comment. Yes, earlier Soviet cartoons (like those that you've mentioned, especially based on Russian folk tales) were wonderful. Lot of details, great plastic movements, vivid colors. I didn't care for puppet cartoons either, though I do remember one of them that I just loved- "Mitten" ("Varezhka"), where a girl who was dreaming about a puppy was pretending that her mitten was a puppy.

Cartoons like "The Three from Buttermilk Village" and "Hedgehog in the Fog" are cartoons for all ages. While smaller kids can be just entertained in a soft kind way, older children and grown ups will find deeper meaning and more food for their brains there.

Vladimir Uhri from HubPages, FB on December 05, 2010:

Hi, ReuVera, I like your Hub.

moncrieff on December 04, 2010:

Aha I see now why a lot of my friends on FB put on cartoon avatars. First I thought it was because of upcoming Christmas, then I thought it was a corporate thing and I went along with it and I chose 'Tom and Jerry', my most beloved cartoon that I grew up on.

Now Soviet cartoons... I love the traditional Bilibin-style cartoons of the 50s ('Kashtanka', 'The Scarlet Flower', Russian fairytales), didn't care much for puppet and more expreriment cartoons of the 70s. I did like though 'Frahm the Bear', 'Cheburashka' (that scene where he is riding on the train car roof, while Crocodile Gena is singing). Yes, I did like 'Just You Wait', 'Buttermilk Village', 'Karlson on the Roof' (which was my favorite children's book).

I agree that Soviet cartoons were perfectly tailored for children's cognitive development, up the age of 6, I would say. Language and visual ambience both enhance a child's weltanschauung and develop further his/her learning skills, as Vygotsky taught. But then 'Buttermilk Village' is more grown up children... At the age of nine kids of today play computer games and they're attuned to a different visual landscape.

Good hub!

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