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Animation: 'Müstiline raba'/'Mysterious Swamp', by Chintis Lundgren

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Hmmm. I am not sure that I understand the 2’51” Müstiline Raba. Storks usually eat frogs, not the other way around. The Cartoon Brew says that this is “a delightful taste of that droll humor we’ve come to expect from Estonian animators.” Whatever. The fact that the stork wears a wristwatch and a frog plays a mandolin makes this anthropomorphic.

I have said previously that I do not understand Estonian animation. I still don’t.

Comments

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A work like this does not need to be understood to be appreciated.

(And hey, a chance to use the "vore" tag!)

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I kind of feel like Krusty the Clown watching "Worker and Parasite"...

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If you really want to injure your brain with Estonian animation, watch Priit Parn's Night of the Carrots. The Simpsons animators had definitely seen Eastern European stuff. :)

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The animators of "The Simpsons" are professionals, and I don't think that you can be a professional animator without at least sampling Priit Pärn's work. Like it or not; understand it or not, he has a very big following among just about every country's animators.

Fred Patten

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Seriously, if you want to watch weird Eastern European animation, you can’t beat Latvia’s. I have told the story of when, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, some man came into Streamline Pictures in Los Angeles where I was working and offered to sell us the American rights to all of Studio Dauka’s (the main animation studio in Riga) productions. He had videotapes of it, and it was truly unique. I liked it, and so did Carl Macek, Streamline’s president. But Carl investigated and found out that (1) this man may have gotten videos of all of Studio Dauka’s cartoons, but he did not represent the studio or have any rights to sell, and (2) he was associated with the Russian Mafia, which we did not want to get involved with.

Recently all of those Latvian cartoons have turned up on YouTube, so anyone can see them anyway. Weird but, unlike Estonian animation, strangely appealing. Especially the “Fantadroms” series with the sneezing alien cat, the even aiiener cat-octopus, the jealous rat, the green alien pig, the floating bubble, and others. Here are eight Fantadroms for your pleasure, and two other Latvian cartoons.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1ywJaOMK5w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tQe9fsCLNw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kixuBTw0aA4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-iapbSqA94&list=PLGZERR4SHXKAXY3KNU9_SURM2E5XR88YA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQk8T5RNGjs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4gu23T29Cs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCQozPtgq-I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI7zC3K4sW4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2ID4qafbyk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuHMK9fSuVw&feature=endscreen

Fred Patten

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I am embarrassed! I have been repeating, “I don’t understand Estonian animation,” for several years now. An old friend has reminded me that I once said after a screening of international animation around a dozen years ago that the Estonian film was hilariously funny; the only one on the program that was not ponderously pretentious.

Yes, I did. The film is “Tagasi Euroopasse” (“Back to Europe”), a 38 minute stop-motion featurette directed by Riho Unt in 1997; a commercial production from Nukufilm (Puppet Film) in Talinn rather than an individual animator’s “fine art” film. The stop-motion was of putty(?) in cloth bags; unusual but effective.

Here is one film festival’s summary: “A parody of the classic adventure film genre. Farmer Samuel, has just become free from the Soviet Union and is in no hurry to join the European Union. Rather, he forces Europe to reckon with him – raising adventures and dangerous situations.” It’s set just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Both Russia and the European Union (shown as American-dominated) are wooing newly-independent Estonia. While the politicians in Talinn are trying to figure out the best deal for themselves, a grumpy old farmer in the countryside argues in his local pub, “To hell with the Americans and the Russians! Estonia for the Estonians!”, and stirs up a popular following.

Unfortunately, it’s not available on the Internet, but here are two film festival summaries, a still of farmer Samuel Plunkham and his omnipresent pig, and some information in English about the Nukufilm studio. “Tagasi Euroopasse” is apparently Unt’s second film starring Farmer Samuel; the first was “Cabbage Head” in 1993.

I have not seen much Estonian commercial stop-motion animation, "made for real people instead of animation snobs".

http://www.nukufilm.ee/index.php?menyy=3&juttq=26&menyyq=sevencat&lisaks=synopsi...

http://www.filmfestamiens.org/?Tagasi-Euroopasse&lang=en

http://www.estonica.org/et/Kultuur/Film/Animafilm/Tagasi_Euroopasse/?max

http://www.nukufilm.ee/index.php?keel=eng

http://www.awn.com/mag/issue2.11/2.11pages/2.11jokinennuku.html

Fred Patten

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About the author

Fred (Fred Patten)read storiescontact (login required)

a retired former librarian from North Hollywood, California, interested in general anthropomorphics

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