Henriette Reisner, M.A.




Early Soviet Animation as reflected on the Aesthetical and Political Debates

Project Description:

The PhD project examines the early development of Soviet Animation and traces the process of its comprehensive reorganization during the 1930s, when the genre evolved from an experimental field into a tool for propaganda purposes, and finally into an entertainment medium for children. With a special focus on the international impact of predominantly American cartoons, it aims to investigate the causes of this transformation and the circumstances in which it took place.

When Disney`s films first conquered the Russian audience in 1935, most of the young artists were captivated by the new possibilities Disney's technologies had to offer, whereas critics argued that the cheerful and apolitical character of the American cartoons did not agree with the ideological guidelines of Soviet art. However “Give us a Soviet Mickey Mouse” became a popular slogan among Soviet filmmakers working in the field of animation, and soon a new course was charted, focusing on the creation of Disney-style animation, while previous genres such as satire or pamphlet were removed from the agenda.

This project acts on the assumption that art in the early Soviet Union was highly competitive, and it was not clear from the beginning if comedy or folktales would be part of it. Against this background, the art of animation seems to be an exciting case study provoking a number of questions: Did Soviet Animation have a jester’s license because it was directed at children and it was not taken as seriously as live-action film? If not, how and to what extent did Disney-style animation engage with politics and become a tool for the socialist “production of souls”?  

Curriculum Vitae:

2003-2010      M.A. in Slavic and German Studies, Humboldt-University Berlin

2005-2006      Exchange semesters at RGGU (Russian State University for Humanities), Moscow

2007             GoEast Fellowship, DAAD,”Gurt Centre”, Kiev

Since 2012     PhD candidate at LMU Munich, Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies