'Dancing Dolls' joins the long line of wonderful cartoons made by Soyuzmultfilm. Mostly based on fairy tales, literary classics and nationalistic folk stories, they are beautifully made, charming and poignant gems with great storytelling and memorable characters. This reviewer has yet to be disappointed by them.
Luckily, 'Dancing Dolls' does not disappoint at all. It's not one of Soyuzmultfilm's best, which was a tall order seeing as there is so much fine stuff from them, but it is one of their sweetest and most criminally underseen.
The animation is beautifully done, its story book-like style being rendered so charmingly. It's not the most imaginative visually of their animations, with their takes on 'Beauty and the Beast' (1952's 'Scarlet Flower') and 'The Nutcracker' (1973's 'Schelkunchik') having particularly unforgettable background art, but a lot of care, heart and detail clearly went into it as can be seen in the sumptuous colours, richly detailed backgrounds and adorable character designs. The dancing ideally matches Shostakovich's music nuance for nuance.
Speaking of Shostakovich's music, with the "Dancing Dolls suite" being one of his most accessible pieces (both from a performer's and listener's perspectives), it's just outstanding and perfectly fits with the animation and the toys' dancing, especially in the dance of the ornaments and from where Puss in Boots appears. It is brilliantly performed on the piano too, with the ornament dance orchestrated with every bit the elegant, gentle simplicity the piece needs. The dancing of the toys not only looks good in the animation but also syncs with the music without any obvious question marks being raised. The ornament dance and the ending fare particularly strongly here.
As for the story, very slight it may be but it was so sweet and touching without being too sugary or saccharine and was continually captivating that it didn't matter at all. The characters carry 'Dancing Dolls' with immense appeal, the toys are adorable and the little girl is likable. To not have voices was a good move, it's a very intimate story with a very gentle mood that voices would have most likely spoilt it.
In conclusion, another enchanting gem from Soyuzmultfilm. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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