Enjoy 15+ Hours of the Weird and Wonderful World of Post Soviet Russian Animation

Back dur­ing the wan­ing years of the Sovi­et Union, ani­ma­tor Alek­san­dr Tatarsky left the state-run stu­dio Écran to form his own ani­ma­tion com­pa­ny called Stu­dio Pilot, the first pri­vate­ly owned com­pa­ny of its kind in Rus­sia. The stu­dio quick­ly made a name for itself by turn­ing out bizarre, sur­re­al and, at times, down­right dis­turb­ing ani­mat­ed shorts. If you went to ani­ma­tion fes­ti­vals dur­ing the Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy, you prob­a­bly saw some­thing from Stu­dio Pilot.

Metafil­ter user “Nomyte,” who clear­ly knows both ani­ma­tion and Russ­ian, put togeth­er an exhaus­tive list of movies on Youtube from Stu­dio Pilot.  A whop­ping 17 hours of footage. Here are a few favorites:

His Wife is a Chick­en (1989)A sur­re­al­ist domes­tic dra­ma tale about a guy who rejects his lov­ing, hard­work­ing wife when he real­izes that, well, she’s a chick­en. Told com­plete­ly with­out words, the film (shown above) mas­ter­ful­ly fus­es every­day banal­i­ty with some tru­ly unnerv­ing bits of weird­ness – like that hor­rif­ic worm dog crea­ture with a human face. I saw this movie at some point in the ear­ly ‘90s and it gave me night­mares.

The Coup  (1991) – An ani­mat­ed polit­i­cal car­toon that — 20 some odd years lat­er — has become a fas­ci­nat­ing his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment. The short shows a svelte Boris Yeltsin lit­er­al­ly flush away the lead­ers of the doomed 1991 coup attempt­ed against Mikhail Gor­bachev. The inci­dent was the last gasp of the Sovi­et old guard; its fail­ure result­ed in the even­tu­al dis­so­lu­tion of the USSR. As the film’s end title points out, all of the short’s ani­ma­tors were per­son­al­ly involved in fight­ing the coup: “From 19 to 21 of August 1991, all ani­ma­tors who made this film have been [sic] defend­ing the white house of Rus­sia. Only by night on August 21 they could start work­ing on the film.”

Gone with the Wind (1998) – Noth­ing about romance dur­ing the Civ­il War here. Instead, this movie is about, once again, a chick­en. The short ani­ma­tion is a macabre tale about a boiled bird that comes back from the dead and strug­gles to return to its orig­i­nal unplucked state. You won’t look at eggs in quite the same way again.

2+1= (2003) – A light­heart­ed com­e­dy about dinosaurs in love.

If you want to see the com­plete list of Stu­dio Pilot ani­ma­tions, check it out here. Many more great ani­mat­ed shorts can be found on our list of Free Ani­mat­ed Films, part of our big­ger col­lec­tion 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Dzi­ga Vertov’s Unset­tling Sovi­et Toys: The First Sovi­et Ani­mat­ed Movie Ever (1924)

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

Watch Sovi­et Ani­ma­tions of Win­nie the Pooh, Cre­at­ed by the Inno­v­a­tive Ani­ma­tor Fyo­dor Khitruk

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

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