The Sunday Intertitle: Toy Story

Protracted and charmless — like the regime itself — this Soviet animation purports to be directed by the great Dziga Vertov, though what his role actually consisted of is a matter for speculation. The drawing is OK, even ambitious, but lacks that mysterious quality known as “appeal,” and the humorous action consists of a bourgeoise gent eating everything in sight, and absorbing some floozy directly into his belly, and then getting stamped on by workers until he stomach cracks open and disgorges some tax money. I’m sort of in favour of the sentiment, as I understand it, even though I am a fat man who has just paid his taxes, but nothing about the presentation is exactly winning, is it? Even Ub Iwerks is cuter.


The whole thing turns out to be, if my eyes do not deceive me, an advertisement for Soviet toys, little Capital and Labour action figures available for Christmas. The suggestion is that Russian tykes can amuse themselves by lynching capitalists in miniature.

God help me, I’m about to plunge into Soviet cinema — a video essay for a major Blu-ray release, and programme notes for the 2016 Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema. But the titles involved are considerably more prestigious and artistic than this weird junk, so it won’t be so bad… and I am cheered to learn that Vertov was an animator, even a poor one, as it illuminates his approach to some degree,,,


4 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Toy Story”

  1. The walking table and chair are very much like the walking tripod in Man with the Movie Camera

    If you’re writing about Soviet cinema THIS should interest you.

  2. A fascinating match, or mis-match? I’m intrigued to see it, and I haven’t felt that about a Greenaway for a while.

    Eisentstein’s awakening lions point to a similar animator’s instinct, bringing the inanimate to life so it can comment on the action.

  3. Actually, I figured it was a self-promotion for the animation studio: “We do amazing and politically correct animation for your propaganda requirements!”

    Brought to mind this:

  4. I think you’re right — my brain had melted by the time of the final images.

    Definitely a similarity, and maybe even an influence, with the Foldes film.

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