Nu, pogodi! ("I'll Get You!") is a series of Russian animated shorts directed by Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin, produced at the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow, between 1969 and 1986. The plot of the series follows the mischievous and artistic Wolf (Volk) trying to catch the Hare (Zayats), presumably with the intention to eat him.
Aside from Zayats and Volk, these cartoons featured such unforgettable characters as Cherubashka, its best friend Kosyak (Gena?) the Crocodile (who plays the accordion) and then there was also that Hippopotamus that overworked Volk, unwittingly foiling the latter's devious plans... The Russian Raccoon and the Monkey... The old lady and her doggie... Assorted eccentrics... And many more!
These animated shorts are little gems of creativity and artistic talent given free reign even though this was a period of time when there were obvious restrictions. They transcend any political climate there could have been and reach out to everyone through their sheer humanity and purity. As there was no competition to speak of, truly, these cartoons made the rounds throughout all of the socialistic regimes of the world - including Eastern Europe. Every kid who was denied American fare had access to these; and, quite frankly, they were all the better off for it!
Truly a mirror image of what was being done over at the States - these cartoons truly rival the Merrie Melodies from Warner Bros. in every way - and then some! That and any short Walt Disney ever conceived of as well! The quality is undeniably the same; the morality lessons even clearer than those delivered by their American counterparts!
These productions also made ingenious use of classical music and time-honoured pieces in a way that tops anything else of the kind - including the times Elmer Fudd and that certain hare went to the opera...!
Volk and Zayats are a tad like Tom and Jerry - but with more realistic plotlines overall, if one can achieve that with a cartoon scenario...! The usual plot device here is a comical chain of events -accidents, really- that make it impossible for Volk to come to realize his devious plans... Make that a singular plan, one that is quite basic to say the least - but let us not give too much away here, I suppose?
Zayats is much more likable than that certain hare from my childhood we just mentioned: you know which one - the one who always asked "what's up, doc?"
Volk is everything Wile E. Coyote aspired to be.
Cherubashka is just the cuddliest thing - and with such a heart-gripping story too! For it is a toy, unwanted and ignored, that finally is given a home by Kosyak, the (one supposes to be a teary-eyed) crocodile; so it is forever grateful to the crocodile and with good reason too. Much more touching a story than any Colargol episode that I remember from this side of the iron curtain...!
Makes one wonder why singers such as Sting hoped the Russians loved their children too - of course they do! And they were in the habit of making wonderful cartoons for them as well - every bit as fun as the American ones, but with the added touch of often having a valuable message and lesson in it, as well! Unlike the American cartoons, made for pure unadulterated fun and profit, there was no profit to be made in a communist regime. Thus the cartoons were, ironically enough, all the more innocent and artistic while emanating from such a regime! Just watch now and see for yourselves: the first cartoon on the following playlist is the one with the raccoon and the monkey, plus a lake creature that, at first, scares the raccoon but then he realizes that most valuable lesson of all: a smile is the start of a beautiful friendship. After that, more Volk, Zayats and company! Overall, the lesson is crystal clear: you get back as you've given. It is something that everyone can agree with and could agree with even back then; when there was an iron curtain...
Who would have thought there were such cuddly, friendly creatures hiding behind the iron curtain back in 1969, hmm? Not the Americans - that is for sure!
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