This article investigates the relationship between surrealism and animation film, attempting to establish the characteristic features of surrealist animation film and to determine an approach for identifying them. Drawing on the interviews conducted during the research, I will also strive to chart the terrain of contemporary surrealist animation film and its authors, most of who work in Eastern Europe. My principal aim is to establish why surrealism enjoyed such relevance and vitality in post-World War II Eastern Europe. I will conclude that the popularity of surrealist animation film in Eastern Europe can be seen as a continuation of a tradition (Prague was an important centre of surrealism during the interwar period), as well as an act of protest against the socialist realist paradigm of the Soviet period.
This article provides a survey of Soviet animation and analyses the thematic and stylistic course of its development. Soviet animated film emerged and materialised in synch with the fluctuations of the region’s political climate and was directly shaped by it. A number of trends and currents of Soviet animation also pertain to other Eastern European countries. After all, Eastern Europe constituted an integrated cultural space that functioned as a single market for the films produced across it by filmmakers who interacted in a professional regional network of film education, events, festivals, publications etc.
Initially experimental, post-revolutionary Russian animation soon fell under the sway of the Socialist Realist discourse, along with the rest of Soviet art, and quickly crystallised as a didactic genre for children. Disney’s paradigm became its major source of inspiration both in terms of visual style and thematic scope, despite the fact that Soviet Union was regarded as the ideological opposite of the Western way of life and mindset. The Soviet animation industry was spread across different studios and republics that adopted slightly varied production practices and tolerated different degrees of artistic freedom. Studios in the smaller republics, such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in particular, stood out for making films that were more ideologically complicated than those produced in Moscow.
This article analyses and maps the links between caricature and animated film, as well as their development during the post-World War II era, in communist Eastern Europe. The article also deals with the specific nature of animation production under the conditions of political censorship and the utilisation of Aesopian language as an Eastern European phenomenon for outmanoeuvring censorship.