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The Soldier's Tale (1984)

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A soldier, returning home from war, chances upon a stranger who offers to buy his violin, the stranger is none other than the devil.


, (libretto L'Histoire du Soldat) (as C.F. Ramuz)
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Credited cast:
Andre Gregory ...
The Narrator (voice)
Dusan Makavejev ...
Ilya Grigorivich Vertov, The Soldier (voice)
Mike Mearian ...
The Announcer (voice)
Galina Panova ...
The Princess (voice)
Brother Theodore ...
The Drill Sergeant / The Herald (voice)


A soldier, returning home from war, chances upon a stranger who offers to buy his violin, the stranger is none other than the devil.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

Use of the following artwork is gratefully acknowledged: Jean Cocteau, Stravinsky Playing the Rite of Spring Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Stravinsky Fernand Leger, The Mechanic Francis Pacabia, The Cacodylatic Eye © S.P.A.D.E.M., Paris/V.A.G.A., New York 1984. Piet Mondrian, Composition #2 © Beeldrecht, Amsterdam/V.A.G.A., New York 1984. George Grosz, Remember Uncle August the Unhappy Inventor © Estate of George Grosz/V.A.G.A., New York 1984. Raoul Hartmann, Dada Cino Wassily Kandinsky, Orange See more »


Version of Historien om en soldat (1956) See more »


L'Histoire du Soldat
Written by Igor Stravinsky
Performed by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (Gerard Schwarz, conductor)
See more »

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User Reviews

An animated TV special like no other
1 March 2001 | by (Tulsa, Oklahoma) – See all my reviews

"A Soldier's Tale" is based upon the theater piece by the composer Igor Stravinsky and the playwright C. F. Ramuz, concerning a soldier who, returning home from war, chances upon a stranger who offers to buy his violin. This stranger turns out to be the Devil, and the violin an avatar of the soldier's soul, and most of the rest of the story concerns the soldier's attempts to regain his violin/soul.

As animated by a team headed by the cartoonist R. O. Blechman, the story has been tinkered with somewhat--introducing some elements not in Ramuz's text--while retaining its essential spirit. I don't think Stravinsky, who conceived the work to begin with, would have disapproved. As he himself wrote, "My original idea was to transpose the period and style of our play to any time and 1918 (the year of the work's composition), and to many nationalities and none, though without destroying the religio-cultural status of the fact, I still encourage producers to localize the play and, if they wish, to dress the soldier in a uniform temporally remote from, but sympathetic to, the audience."

Blechman's style of line-drawing transfers surprisingly well to animation; the coloring has the pale look of watercolors, and the characters are wonderfully expressive (with the music heightening emotions at critical points), minimally drawn though they are. The use of perspective is spectacular enough to make me wonder what "A Solder's Tale" would look like on the big screen. Some of Blechman's designs recall Terry Gilliam's use of stylishly retro technological imagery, adding to the sense of wonder generated by the original story.

I first encountered Blechman's "A Soldier's Tale" by way of the ending, which was excerpted and used in the documentary series "Masters of Animation". Even out of context the excerpt just blew me away, and it retained every bit of its impact when I finally saw the complete work a few years later. While not for everybody, this version of "A Soldier's Tale" should be far better known than it is. Long out-of-print on VHS, Blechman's "A Soldier's Tale" is finally available on DVD, and well worth the time for serious animation fans to seek it out.

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