Thursday, May 20, 2010

Animated Soviet Propaganda: Shooting Range (1979)

In 2 parts:


I barely know what to say. My first question is this: how much access did Soviets have to LSD in the 1970s?

While "Shooting Range" clearly fits into the broader themes of propaganda, with the evil American capitalist taking advantage of massive unemployment to exploit workers, the political message really seems beside the point. I guess that's not surprising. By 1979, who really believed in doctrinaire Marxism anymore? Were the Soviet people really buying the political messages at that time? I'm not a Soviet expert by any means, so I don't really know. But certainly the political message here is obscured by the artistry.

The animation here is really interesting. Great use of shadows, color, and other techniques to create a very interesting cartoon. The music is also fantastic. Again, we see the Soviets employing American music to make a point. As is frequent, these cartoons use jazz as a whipping boy. "Shooting Range" uses dissonant free jazz to hammer home the point of American corruption. But as is frequent in Soviet attempts to slam jazz, it backfires because it's an utterly compelling and effective soundtrack to this film. Given the relative popularity of experimental jazz and other out-music in eastern Europe, I suspect audiences definitely did not take the negative message about jazz with them.

Other notes:

The scene at the beginning of part 2 where they fall in love might as well come straight from some sort of counterculture animation. The rabbit spewing rainbows out of his violin, two of the Seven Dwarfs hitting an anvil, just complete random psychedelia.

The use of American products and corporate brand names strikes me throughout many of these cartoons. I guess this cartoon is saying Coca-Cola is a bad thing, but it's not really expressing that clearly, it's directly using the brand logo, and it's basically free advertising. You have to feel that this cartoon made Soviets want American products more, not less.

I actually would really like to own the soundtrack. 

Most of this just really leaves me speechless.