If you’ve visited any social media sites lately, you’ve doubtless noticed that people are talking mermaids again, as the result of a new mockumentary that has a lot of people fooled. Despite the renewed curiosity on the internet, mermaids still, of course, aren’t real. But, they do have a real place in the history of Russian cinema. The Little Mermaid (Русалочка in Russian) is one of the most haunting and beautiful animated features made by Russian animation studio Soyuzmultifilm.
This version of The Little Mermaid is far more loyal to the original Hans Christian Anderson tale than the Disney version; don’t expect any cheerful singing crabs or a happy wedding at the end. What you can expect is gorgeous artwork in the distinctive style of mid-sixties Soviet studios.
Soyuzmultifilm (which roughly translates as “Union Animation Film”) was formed in 1936. They are the studio responsible for many of the most beloved Russian animation. Chances are, these films were part of your Russian or Ukrainian lady friend’s childhood the way Charlie Brown specials or stop-motion Christmas movies were part of yours. A few of their best-loved titles include Winnie the Pooh (Vinni Pukh), Three from Buttermilk Village and the international award-winner Hedgehog in the Fog.
If you are familiar with the story The Little Mermaid, the cartoon is easy to follow, even without subtitles. The artistic style of the film is quite striking and well worth a watch. (It’s also great for those who want opportunities to increase their understanding of Russian.)
Photo: Flickr user littlemisspurps