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Originally it was 'Vladimir Vysotsky (I)' who had to perform for Wolf. But he wasn't approved by Soviet cinema authorities because of his personality (Vysotsky was popular among the "grassroot" but not among the Communist party elite). As a result, Vysotsky was replaced by Anatoliy Papanov. However, a small part of Vysotsky's well-known "Song about a Friend" ("Pesnya o druge" in Russian) can be heard at the beginning of the 1st episode (when Wolf climbs up with the help of a rope) and in the 10th episode (the replay of the same moment, but Wolf and Hare trade places). See more »
Probably inspired by the American "Tom and Jerry" and "Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote" cartoons, the Russian animated series "Nu, pogodi!" features the smoking, beer-gutted, rebellious Volk (wolf) and his futile attempts to capture and eat the innocent young Zayats (hare). The first cartoon of the series was released in 1969, the second in 1970 and the series continued for sixteen episodes until the death of Anatoli Papanov, the voice of the wolf, in 1987. In 1993, two more episodes were produced featuring archived samples of Papanov's voice.
Though the cartoons are in Russian, dialogue within the films is scarce, rarely stretching beyond the wolf's trademark "Nu, zayats, nu pogodi! / Hare, just you wait!", which he utters every time his plans fail, and which you'll pick up on very quickly. Each ten-minute episode takes place in a different setting, and the wolf attempts to utilise the current situation to capture the hare (voiced by Klara Rumyanova) and presumably make a good meal out of her. Alas, these attempts are almost always in vain, with the hare constantly outsmarting the desperate wolf, either deliberately or inadvertently. Just like in your typical 'Roadrunner' cartoon, our sympathies are split between the characters we certainly don't want the young innocent hare to be devoured, but we do feel sorry for the wolf as his endeavors fail miserably time after time.
I'm yet to see all the episodes in the series (I've really just started, in fact), but I'm enjoying it immensely, and each adventure brings forth something different and exciting. Somewhat uniquely, 'Nu, pogodi!' often sets its story to the tune of popular pop hits from the era in which it was made, so approximate dates of release can be pinpointed for any given episode based purely on the music selection. I also uncovered an interesting piece of trivia about the series. Initially, Russian singer/actor Vladimir Vysotsky was cast as the voice of the wolf, but Soviet cinema authorities did not give the studio their approval to use him, as he was not popular amongst the Communist party elite. As we know, Anatoli Papanov went on to become the voice of the wolf, though the cartoon's producers possibly included a slight tribute to Vysotsky by playing a sample of his well-known "Song about a Friend" ("Pesnya o Druge" in Russian) at the very beginning of the first episode.
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