Kausler's Closet
December 24, 2018 posted by Jerry Beck

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Next month we will resume our investigation of the contents within the sacred Mark Kausler film collection. Mark has been collecting 16mm prints for decades and may have one of the largest collections ever amassed – and we have a golden pass to examine some of the odds and ends therein. For Christmas Eve, I’ve asked Mark to pull some seasonal titles we might not have seen. Here are two from the Soviet Union and one from the Czech Republic. First up:

A Christmas Journey (1959 – aka “A Christmas Visit” Soyuzmultifilm production) with original Russian titles. English voices: Gilbert Mack (Narrator), Hal Smith (Taxi Driver / Santa Claus / Lion / Whale), Ginny Tyle (Kolya). Says Mark: “This is a very elaborate, somewhat suspenseful animated cartoon. I especially like the “whaleback” sequence. It’s all a dream, of course, but it has the Russian version of Kris Kringle in it.”


Little Snow Flake (A Captain Sailorbird version of a Soyuzmultifilm cartoon, combination of stop motion and cel animation). We are going to have to a post on the “Captain Sailorbird” cartoons one of these days… as for this one Mr. Kausler says, “I’m not sure of the year, but this has a Hans Andersen “Little Mermaid” tragic ending. The little bear and rabbit are such typically cute Russian character designs.”


Mole and the Christmas Tree (1975). “By Zdenek Miler of Czechoslovakia, featuring his daughters doing the voices, except for the crow. There are some 50 cartoons starring the Mole! He is one of the favorite Czech cartoon characters, beloved in Eastern Europe. This cartoon is also known as “The Mole At Christmas”.

NOTE: Mark’s print is clearly in rough shape… a cleaner version appears on archive.org.

Merry Christmas – Everyone!

13 Comments

  • Merry Christmas Jerry, Mark and all the contributors who write for Cartoon Research, and all the best for 2019.

  • Both of the Russian cartoons posted were originally released in colour:

    The literal translation of the original Russian title for “A Christmas Journey” is actually “New Year’s Voyage” (1959):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrV-wA8_MP4

    The original title for “Little Snow Flake” is “Skazka o Snegurochke” (The Tale of the Snow Maiden, 1957)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHv4xeXcFTs

    • The reason for it being titled “New Year’s” was due to Christmas technically being outlawed in the USSR at the time. The way they got around it was to say it was a “New Year’s” holiday and kept it as that for a while.

  • Re “Little Snow Flake”: This is “Сказка о снегурочке” (“Skazka o Snegurochke”; “Tale of the Snow Maiden”) from 1957. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3udtxhrS-s

    Re “Mole and the Christmas Tree”: The “Mole” films have been shown in 85 countries and are beloved not just in Eastern Europe, but also, for example, in Germany, where he is known as “Der kleine Maulwurf”. For those who’d like to know more about these films: I recently came across a book chapter by Riika Palonkorpi: “Mole holes in the Iron Curtain. The success story of the Krtek animated films”. In: Miklóssy, Katalin; Ilic, Melanie (eds.): Competition in socialist society. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014; pp. 142-158.

    Merry Christmas
    F. Litten

  • The voice of Captain Sailorbird sounds like Gilbert Mack.

  • We and our puddy tats out in the Catskills wish Mark and Jerry a Merry Christmas! Had a couple of those “Capt’n Sailorbird” cartoons – think I still have them. Recall a rather Disney-esque winter wonderland one and my guess would be that it was made in Russia in the 1940’s.

  • YouTube has a decent, possibly legit copy up right now for the Mole cartoon!
    https://youtu.be/cZQFpvKhbyw

  • Thanks for posting all the color and better condition copies of these Christmas cartoons. These are unique copies for they have English tracks and were the versions I saw on TV when they were first released to the American market. The version of “Mole and the Christmas Tree” that Chris posted is very nice, much better than my battered old print. Does anyone know who DIRECTED “Tale of the Snow Maiden” and “New Year’s Voyage”? Season’s Greetings to all! Mark

    • Are these the ones that you’re referring to? The website animator.ru has a full list of Russian animated films and many others from other then-Soviet countries.

      http://www.animator.ru/db/?ver=eng&p=show_film&fid=2047
      http://www.animator.ru/db/?ver=eng&p=show_film&fid=2008

      If these aren’t the ones you can try searching for the titles your self in order to find the right ones.

      Perhaps you or somebody else can help me. There’s a Russian stop motion short somewhere around twenty minutes long where a man who plays a steel harp-like instrument trades it to a sea king in exchange for a ship full of gold, only to find out that the sea king can’t play the instrument so he wants to go back on the trade.

    • Thanks Mark!

      I also have a super 8mm copy of that Mole cartoon as well!

    • This is actually in reply to GW – the plot sounds like it’s from the tale/ opera/ film”Sadko:”

      So maybe this? http://www.animator.ru/db/?ver=eng&p=show_film&fid=2699

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU8Feqoyhv8

    • I believe that’s it! Thank you for finding it. I thought it was named after the instrument so I looked all over Animator.ru to no avail. I also asked a guy on YouTube who’s uploaded a lot of subtitled Russian animations about it but I didn’t get a response.

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