Two Beautifully-Crafted Russian Animations of Chekhov’s Classic Children’s Story “Kashtanka”

Long before mas­ters of the short sto­ry like Ray­mond Carv­er and Flan­nery O’Connor com­mand­ed the respect of cre­ative writ­ing teach­ers every­where, Anton Chekhov’s spare, man­nered sto­ries set the stan­dard for the form. Known for their sub­tle­ty and keen obser­va­tions of human weak­ness and social ills, the typ­i­cal Chekhov sto­ry nev­er boils over into melo­dra­ma but sim­mers, slow­ly push­ing ten­sions close to the sur­face of rou­tine inter­ac­tions with­out let­ting them break through and explode.

The sto­ry ani­mat­ed above, how­ev­er, is some­thing of an excep­tion to Chekhov’s domes­tic human dra­mas. “Kash­tan­ka” is a about a dog, and a good bit of it is told from her per­spec­tive. First pub­lished in 1884 as “In Bad Times,” the sto­ry was alleged­ly inspired by Chekhov’s love of the cir­cus. Chekhov wrote the sto­ry for chil­dren, so it’s fit­ting that it receive this Dis­ney-esque treat­ment (the open­ing scene remind­ed me of Gep­pet­to’s work­shop).

Russ­ian poster design­er and children’s book illus­tra­tor Mikhail Tsekhanovsky made the film in 1952, when car­toons were painstak­ing­ly hand-drawn cel by cel. Anoth­er Russ­ian ani­ma­tor, Natalia Orlo­va, takes advan­tage of 21st cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy in her 2004 ren­der­ing of “Kash­tan­ka” below, but she does so in a unique way that inte­grates hand-paint­ed images; the flick­er­ing stop-motion resem­bles children’s book illus­tra­tions come to life. Along with the excel­lent sound design, her cap­ti­vat­ing style makes for a very dif­fer­ent visu­al­iza­tion of the sto­ry.

Note: You will need to click CC at the bot­tom of the video to launch the sub­ti­tles.

via Bib­liok­lept

Relat­ed Con­tent:

18 Ani­ma­tions of Clas­sic Lit­er­ary Works: From Pla­to and Shake­speare, to Kaf­ka, Hem­ing­way and Gaiman

12 Ani­mat­ed Plays by William Shake­speare: Mac­beth, Oth­el­lo and Oth­er Great Tales Brought to Life

“The Me Bird” by Pablo Neru­da: An Ani­mat­ed Inter­pre­ta­tion

Three Inter­pre­ta­tions of Charles Bukowski’s Melan­choly Poem “Nir­vana”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him @jdmagness

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