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Director: Ivan Ivanov-Vano
Release Date: 1972
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Ave Maria © Soyuzmultfilm‘Ave Maria’ is a very grim anti-Vietnam film, made in the Soviet Union.

It combines paintings of the Virgin Mary with images of war. Its darkest moment is when a soldier in a gas mask kills a Vietnamese child. The film ends with live action footage of people protesting against the Vietnam war. Clever montage suggests that the protesters are being repressed.

Despite its disturbing character the film is too blatantly propagandastic and too directionless to be a classic. It also uses little animation.

Watch ‘Ave Maria’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Ave Maria’ is available on the DVD box set ‘Animated Soviet Propaganda’

Director: Ivan Aksenchuk
Release Date: 1972
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Plus Electrification © Soyuzmultfilm‘Plus Electrification’ is a commissioned film for the State Commission for the Electrification.The film propagates the electrification of the Soviet Union.

Accompanied by a folky song glorifying electricity, we watch electricity pylons march through the countryside and Soviet electricity pylons shaking hands with Czech and Polish electricity pylons.

Its use of old-fashioned communist imagery, black-and white live action footage and ridiculously heroic music makes the film extremely dated. Despite the colorful images and even a look into the future, one can hardly comprehend that this film was made in the 1970s, not the 1940s.

Watch ‘Plus Electrification’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Plus Electrification’ is available on the DVD box set ‘Animated Soviet Propaganda’

Director: Jan Švankmajer
Release Date: 1971
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Leonardo's Diary © Jan SvankmajerAnimated sketches of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci are alternated with excerpts from stock live action films.

Atypically for Jan Švankmajer, this film uses pencil animation only (except for a short stop motion segment of a pencil drawing a hand). The animation of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings is both stunning and very convincing. Unfortunately, the nonsensical interruptions with stock film wear the film down, rendering a boring film with an unclear message.

Nevertheless, the Czech communist authorities responded negatively to Švankmajer’s unauthorized post-production of this film, with the incorporation of images related to daily life – presuming a hidden political message. So after ‘Leonardo’s Diary’ Švankmajer was forced to lay down his work for seven years. Only in 1979 he would make the start of a second career, in which he would produce his best films. However, Švankmajer would never return to drawn animation, and ‘Leonardo’s Diary’ remains the only testimony of his skills in this form of art.

Watch ‘Leonardo’s Diary’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Leonardo’s Diary’ is available on the DVD ‘Jan Svankmajer – The Complete Short Films’

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