Behold Soviet Animations of Ray Bradbury Stories

Sergei Bon­darchuk direct­ed an 8‑hour film adap­ta­tion of War and Peace (1966–67), which end­ed up win­ning an Oscar for Best For­eign Pic­ture. When he was in Los Ange­les as a guest of hon­or at a par­ty, Hol­ly­wood roy­al­ty like John Wayne, John Ford, and Bil­ly Wilder lined up to meet the Russ­ian film­mak­er. But the only per­son that Bon­darchuk was tru­ly excit­ed to meet was Ray Brad­bury. Bon­darchuk intro­duced the author to the crowd of bemused A‑listers as “your great­est genius, your great­est writer!”

Ray Brad­bury spent a life­time craft­ing sto­ries about robots, Mar­tians, space trav­el and nuclear doom and, in the process, turned the for­mer­ly dis­rep­utable genre of Sci-Fi/­Fan­ta­sy into some­thing respectable. He influ­enced legions of writ­ers and film­mak­ers on both sides of the Atlantic from Stephen King to Neil Gaiman to Fran­cois Truf­faut, who adapt­ed his most famous nov­el, Fahren­heit 451, into a movie.

That film wasn’t the only adap­ta­tion of Bradbury’s work, of course. His writ­ings have been turned into fea­ture films, TV movies, radio shows and even a video game for the Com­modore 64. Dur­ing the wan­ing days of the Cold War, a hand­ful of Sovi­et ani­ma­tors demon­strat­ed their esteem for the author by adapt­ing his short sto­ries.

Vladimir Sam­sonov direct­ed Bradbury’s Here There Be Tygers, which you can see above. A space­ship lands on an Eden-like plan­et. The humans inside are on a mis­sion to extract all the nat­ur­al resources pos­si­ble from the plan­et, but they quick­ly real­ize that this isn’t your ordi­nary rock. “This plan­et is alive,” declares one of the char­ac­ters. Indeed, not only is it alive but it also has the abil­i­ty to grant wish­es. Want to fly? Fine. Want to make streams flow with wine? Sure. Want to sum­mon a nubile maid­en from the earth? No prob­lem. Every­one seems enchant­ed by the plan­et except one dark-heart­ed jerk who seems hell-bent on com­plet­ing the mis­sion.

Samsonov’s movie is styl­ized, spooky and rather beau­ti­ful – a bit like as if Andrei Tarkovsky had direct­ed Avatar.

Anoth­er one of Bradbury’s shorts, There Will Come Soft Rain, has been adapt­ed by Uzbek direc­tor Naz­im Tyuh­ladziev (also spelled Noz­im To’laho’jayev). The sto­ry is about an auto­mat­ed house that con­tin­ues to cook and clean for a fam­i­ly of four unaware that they all per­ished in a nuclear explo­sion. While Bradbury’s ver­sion works as a com­ment on both Amer­i­can con­sumerism and gen­er­al Cold War dread, Tyuhladziev’s ver­sion goes for a more reli­gious tact. The robot that runs the house looks like a mechan­i­cal snake (Gar­den of Eden, any­one?). The robot and the house become undone by an errant white dove. The ani­ma­tion might not have the pol­ish of a Dis­ney movie, but it is sur­pris­ing­ly creepy and poignant.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2014.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Beau­ti­ful, Inno­v­a­tive & Some­times Dark World of Ani­mat­ed Sovi­et Pro­pa­gan­da (1925–1984)

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

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

Watch the Sur­re­al­ist Glass Har­mon­i­ca, the Only Ani­mat­ed Film Ever Banned by Sovi­et Cen­sors (1968)

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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