6.7/10
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3 user 5 critic

The New Gulliver (1935)

Novyy Gulliver (original title)
While hearing the story of "Gulliver's Travels", a young Russian boy dreams that he is the title character on the island of Lilliput.

Director:

Aleksandr Ptushko (as A. L. Ptushko)

Writers:

Samuel Bolotin (dialogue), Aleksandr Ptushko | 2 more credits »
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Vladimir Konstantinov Vladimir Konstantinov ... Gulliver / Pioneer Petya
Ivan Yudin ... Troop Leader Yudin / Gulliver's Shipboard Pal
Ivan Bobrov ... Skipper
Fyodor Brest ... Captain
Mikhail Dagmarov Mikhail Dagmarov ... Camp Leader (as M. Dagmarov)
Yuri Khmelnitsky Yuri Khmelnitsky
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Storyline

While hearing the story of "Gulliver's Travels", a young Russian boy dreams that he is the title character on the island of Lilliput.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The short-story writer Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky served as the main screenwriter for the film, but received no official credit. At the time of his death in 1950, Krzhizhanovsky had received no credit for his screenplays and most of his short stories were circulating as anonymous works. His identity and relative significance was discovered in the 1970s and 1980s. See more »

Connections

Version of Gulliver in the Country of Dwarfs (1974) See more »

User Reviews

 
A Marxist appropriation of Jonathan Swift, oddly enough
30 December 2001 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

If you've been searching for a Soviet version of "Gulliver's Travels" populated with a cast of animated puppets, scored with rousing musical numbers saluting the heroic proletariat, look no further -- this is the film for you! Novyy Gullier (a.k.a. "The New Gulliver") which was the first major work by director Alexsandr Ptushko, is also one of the first feature-length films to showcase puppet animation. Once we get past the live-action prologue, which lasts about 10 minutes or so, the bulk of the film is set in an animated Lilliput, populated by 'pixilated' puppets and clay figures who often share the frame with the human actor playing Gulliver. This is not the first feature-length film to offer animation of this kind -- Ladislaus Starewicz' Tale of the Fox (1930) predates it -- but it's a milestone nonetheless, not only in scale but in audacity.

Audacious it certainly is, but for me the film turned out to be a disappointment. The animation technique displayed by Starewicz is more accomplished than Ptushko's in every way: the movement of his characters in Tale of the Fox was smoother, his pacing was tighter, and his sense of humor more robust. To be fair, however, Starewicz was working in France, unencumbered by censorship, while Ptushko labored under the severe disadvantage of having to function and survive as an artist in Stalin's USSR. Consequently, his version of Swift had to be adapted for Soviet consumption, and the propaganda is duly ladled on with a heavy hand. Lilliput's king is a drooling moron who giggles and scratches himself, while his ministers are all decadent sadists and cowards; meanwhile, the underground labor movement is made up of earnest, muscular, and interchangeable workers who eventually overthrow the corrupt royalists with Gulliver's help. Stirring anthems to labor are sung at key moments.

But the biggest problem, in my opinion, is the draggy pacing. Despite the fact that Ptushko often has an impressive amount of action going on in the frame, nothing much happens plot-wise for long stretches, and when action does occur it occurs slowly. Worse, the comedy is poorly handled; most of it involves the king's evil minions, but it's all very clunky and obvious. Opportunities for gags are botched, one after another. (Perhaps Ptushko found it difficult to be funny with the apparatchiks of Stalin's Ministry of Culture breathing down his neck. Of course, he would have had similar problems in Germany or Italy at the time.) The most memorable and amusing sequence is the performance given for Gulliver's pleasure by the king's dancers and singers, whose solemnity is considerably more laugh-provoking than the forced antics of the corrupt courtiers. Also impressive is the sequence in the underground factory, where a spider-like machine and the robotic movements of the workers are suggestive of Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Novyy Gulliver is no masterpiece, but it is an unusual and significant achievement, quite unlike anything else ever produced, and a must for animation buffs. Viewers with an interest in the role of the artist in a totalitarian state will likely find this a fascinating document, albeit one with disturbing undertones.


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Details

Country:

Soviet Union

Language:

Russian

Release Date:

3 November 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The New Gulliver See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mosfilm See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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