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Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: January 16, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck
In ‘The Village Smithy’ Donald is a blacksmith who has to fix a large cartwheel and to shoe a stubborn female donkey. He succeeds in neither in this remarkably unfunny cartoon, which is one of the weakest within the whole Donald Duck series.
Long situation gags became a common feature of Disney shorts during the rise of the character comedy, in cartoons like ‘Mickey Plays Papa‘ (1934) and ‘Moving Day’ (1936). Arguably, this time of comedy reaches its nadir in ‘The Village Smithy’. In it only two situations are milked to the length of the complete cartoon, with tiresome results. The wheel scene is the most interesting of the two, if still far from funny, and tributary to the spiral spring scene in ‘Clock Cleaners’ (1937).
The most interesting feature of this otherwise boring cartoon are its backgrounds, which belong to the first oil backgrounds in a Disney film, and which give the film a distinct, gloomy look. Donald, too, has a unique yellowish tan throughout this picture, setting the cartoon apart from all other Donald Duck shorts.
Watch ‘The Village Smithy’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Viacheslav Kotenochkin
Release Date: 1967
Its chapters are all conceived in the same order: first we see animated capitalist predict something, then we see a giant Soviet blacksmith strike his mighty hammer and finally we see live action footage of the Soviet Union’s successes.
The separate chapters are the Soviet revolution, the civil war, the five year plans, the Second World War, the reconstruction after the war and the Soviet space program. The action is silent, and the imagery rather outdated (more like that of the 1920s than of the 1960s).
‘Prophets and Lessons’ is one of the most obviously propagandistic animation films ever made in the Soviet Union. Its overtly propagandastic message, its repetitive character, and its outdated symbolism make it rather tiresome to watch.
Surprisingly, two years later, the director of this humorless film, Viacheslav Kotenochin, would launch a successful series of comic cartoons, called ‘Ну, Погоди!’ (Just Wait!), featuring a very cartoony wolf.
Watch ‘Prophets and Lessons’ yourself and tell me what you think: