A happy little potter is approached by a huge hand which wants him to sculpt its statue. The potter refuses, wanting nothing more than to be left alone with his only friend, a potted plant.... See full summary »
A three-part depiction of various forms of communication. 'Factual Discussion' depicts three heads (made up of fruit, kitchen utensils and writing implements respectively) endlessly ... See full summary »
The world is divided into factions, on opposite sides of issues; each side is, of course, right. And so the gap between the people grows, until someone challenges the absolutist view of what's "right."
A jilted husband takes his revenge by filming his wife and her lover and showing the result at the local cinema. This was one of Starewicz' first animated films, and stars very realistic ... See full summary »
On a dark night, as the clock strikes eight, a mother sends her child upstairs to bed with only a candle for light. The child is wary, then frightened. The child hears something climbing ... See full summary »
"Surogat" (mostly known in English-speaking countries as "Ersatz") was the first film produced outside the USA to win an Oscar for "best cartoon". While there were many great "foreign" cartoons in previous years, "Surogat"'s Oscar was auspicious in that it marked the point at which the mainstream of American animation took notice of such work. In view of the course American animation eventually took, it's easy to see why.
"Surogat" itself shows evidence of American influence, specifically from the UPA studios. UPA's animators developed a style (really a range of styles) taking cues from modern art and graphic design. Figures were rendered iconically; what they stood for was more important than their exact resemblance to what they depicted. UPA used this style to tell fables for a presumed adult audience, and avoided cuteness and slapstick.
"Surogat" is an adult fable as well, but obviously director Dusan Vukotic and writer Rudolf Sremec didn't feel bound by UPA's anti-slapstick rule. Otherwise, their film could easily pass as UPA product, though it outdoes all but UPA's very best work. The figures consist of simple geometric shapes, and most of their movements are either parallel to one of their edges or else curvilinear in the manner of "rubber-hose" animation; in other cases, they simply "pop" from one pose to another. (An acquaintance of mine called it "a bunch of triangles and shapes hopping around." "The Simpsons" effectively parodied the style by taking advantage of attitudes like that.) Despite this minimalism, the characters are identifiable as characters, and within the boundaries of fable the story works just fine.
UPA's main influence on American animation lay not in its "artistry" so much as the way its style was easy to copy, and to transfer over to "limited" animation for television, a growth industry at the time. TV animators also watched cartoons like "Surogat" for potential shortcuts they could use in their work. (I believe one immediately influential aspect of "Surogat" was its music, a sort of advanced semi-jazzy big-band/orchestral piece that wouldn't be out of place in, say, a "Jetsons" episode.)
However, when a new-generation of animators went to work for Hanna-Barbera and attempted to take their work "back to basics", they took artistic cues from UPA and other "artistic"/"iconic" work of the 1950's which influenced H-B. Hence, the influence of "Surogat" shows up in such recent work as "Two Stupid Dogs", "Dexter's Laboratory", "The Powerpuff Girls", and (the most self-consciously "artistic" of this group) "Samurai Jack".
Unfortunately, "Surogat"/"Ersatz" is very hard (at least for Americans) to find on video. Janus put it on a collection of short films, but this would appear to be out of print; however, it may be found in some libraries, especially those with older or larger video collections.
18 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?