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6 legendary Soviet cartoons that you can watch at home

6 legendary Soviet cartoons that you can watch at home

31 March 2020
Top image: still from Gena the Crocodile

Our selection of the best Soviet-era cartoons for you to stream online, all with English subtitles. Filled with adventure and adorable characters, these colourful animations are the perfect pick-me-up to get you through life’s universal ups-and-downs, with a lighthearted take on everyday trials and challenges.

If you thought Baby Yoda was cute, it’s probably because you haven’t met Cheburashka. With his trademark saucer-like ears, fluffy Cheburashka arrives in the USSR in a box of oranges, before tumbling into the path of Gena, a rather cultured crocodile that works in the zoo. Based on Eduard Uspensky’s 1966 book, Crocodile Gena and His Friends, and adapted into four short films, this cult Soviet cartoon is an affectionate homage to friendship and the struggles of fitting in, with themes, characters, and songs that never get old.

All of the four films in the series are available on Youtube.

Released in 1974, this heartwarming cartoon is a touching Soviet take on classic fables. A hare carrying a bag of apples home through the woods is targeted by an array of deceitful forest dwellers, until he eventually arrives to his hungry children completely empty-handed. But, in an unexpected turn of events, the hare’s kindness pays off. Happily ever after, the film closes with the hare’s family feasting on forest vegetables and singing a cheerful reminder that generosity is always rewarded.

The full film is available on Youtube.

If Russians want to say that they’re confused, they might describe themselves as feeling “feeling like a hedgehog in the fog”. The popular idiom comes from this iconic Soviet cartoon, a 1975 film by Russian animator Yury Norshtein. The animation sees an adorable hedgehog head out underneath a starry sky for his daily cup of tea with his bearcub-best friend. But as he gets lost in the fog which has engulfed the once familiar landscape, the hedgehog embarks on profound reflections about life, death and friendship. Visually captivating and ever-relevant, this cartoon has earned a soft spot in the hearts of generations.

The full film is available on Youtube.

In this heartwarming animated short from 1978, based on a novel by Eduard Uspensky, a young boy nicknamed “Uncle Fyodor” thanks to his serious demeanor, meets Matroskin, a talking cat. Fyodor decides to adopt him, but, when his parents forbid him from keeping the rather odd animal as a pet, Fyodor and Matroskin run away from home. Along their journey, they meet Sharik, a stray dog, and the three of them decide to settle down in a village called Prostokvashino. As Fyodor’s parents desperately look for their son, the unlikely trio find themselves involved in the most ludicrous of adventures.

The full series is available on Youtube.

In this Russian take on Tom and Jerry, a chainsmoking wolf and a quick-humoured hare get into all manner of messy mischiefs. This eternal cat-and-mouse slapstick was produced from 1969 until 2006, and, as it uses very few words besides the catchphrase, “Well, just you wait!” (“Nu, pogodi!”), it is perfect for young children and Russian language learners.

The first seven episodes are available on Youtube.

Based on the first chapter of AA Milne‘s famous honey-loving bear, the Russian equivalent of Winnie the Pooh is a three-episode series from the late 60s, starred by a gawky brown bear as the eponymous character himself. While on a quest for honey, Winnie and his friends embark on a myriad of adventures, philosophise, and sing a collection of extremely catchy songs while roaming the colourful forest where they live.

All three episodes of the series are available on Youtube.

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