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Director: Vladimir Tarasov
Release date: 1988
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Pereval (The Pass) © Soyuzmultfilm‘Pereval’ (The Pass) is a science fiction film from the Soviet Union about three youngsters, descendants of some astronauts stranded on a strange, alien planet, who make a quest to the original spaceship.

The film is dark and moody and the atmosphere contemplative, even in the action scenes. Nevertheless, there is a weak comic relief in the form of an eight-eyed, elephant-like creature, which the youngsters encounter on their way to the ship.

In this film Tarasov uses a bold, realistic style with sharp contrasts: he juxtaposes stark shadows with monochrome yellows and reds to create a unique graphic atmosphere, reminiscent of the work by Frank Miller. The planet is portrayed as barren, disturbing and threatening. The images are often very surreal, and no attemption is made to give the backgrounds any sense of realism. This makes this film comparable to Laloux’s ‘La Planète sauvage‘, despite its difference in style. The spaceship, for example, looks more like an alien temple, and one gets the idea that the journey of the three is more symbolical than real. The mood is enhanced by a Dio-like hard rock song.

‘Pereval’ was the last animation film Tarasov made during the Soviet era. See the modest Wikipedia article to learn what happened to him after the fall of the Soviet Union.

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Director: Vladimir Tarasov
Release date: 1978
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Contact © Soyuzmultfilm‘Contact’ is a good-humored short film in which a pipe-smoking, nature-loving hippie encounters a multicolored alien, capable of morphing.

First the man flees in horror, but then the two make contact through music, and in the end we can see them walking into the distance, singing together.

This Soviet film is surprisingly Western-looking and is drawn in a bold seventies style. In contrast with Tarasov’s earlier ‘Forward March, Time!‘ any Soviet association is lacking, and there seems to be some vague message about freedom. Tarasov shows his directing skills and is not afraid to use bold angles and extreme perspectives. The short contains a typical cartoon chase, accompanied by lively jazz music.

In 1979 Tarasov returned with the graphical equally original, but much more propagandistic film ‘Shooting Range’, proving that he was one of the most interesting Russian animators of his generation.

Watch ‘Contact’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Vladimir Tarasov
Release Date: 1977
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Forward March Time © Soyuzmultfilm‘Forward March Time!’ is a bold setting of a poem by soviet futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1892-1930).

The film illustrates the meandering poem with associative images of the 1905 revolution, the 1917 revolution, World War II and even a futuristic battle in space.

Using a combination of typical seventies designs (besides communist paintings) and rock music (besides an excerpt from Mahler’s fifth symphony), the film is both a markedly modern and interesting piece of soviet propaganda, if a bit too long. It shows Tarasov’s unique style, which he explored further in the much more lighthearted short ‘Contact‘.

Watch ‘Forward March, Time!’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Forward March, Time!’ is available on the DVD box set ‘Animated Soviet Propaganda’

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