Friday, September 26, 2014

Stephen King's "Battleground" - in Russian

Battleground Soviet

Stephen King's "Battleground" - in Russian.

I'm posting this peculiar animation for the curiosity factor and the fact that it is so odd. Plus, I just plain like it, though I doubt it will get many views. It clocks in at just under 10 minutes, and it is worth your time if you like unexpectedly good animation.

This is s Soviet-era (1986) animation of a Stephen King short called "Battleground." Soviet animation gets overlooked these days, but it actually was quite good, with a distinctive style that echoes many of the classics of the genre (this one brings to mind, for example, the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" from "Yellow Submarine," though with a completely different message).

The animation is done primarily by rotoscope, a venerable animation process still in wide use today which gives a kind of impressionistic view of the world. It was used at the same time in the classic A-ha music video "Take on Me," which is still great fun to watch and which, if you never have seen it, you must go watch right now. There also is a good deal of plain-jane hand-drawn animation thrown in at times that also is quite entertaining. The soundtrack isn't bad at all, either, though it sounds more '70s than '80s - then, this was the Soviet Union.

In the animation, a Soviet spy goes about his spy business-killing a New York toy company executive! - but then something unexpected happens and he is in for the fight of his life. This is accompanied by a clipped, detached and emotionless female narration that is creepier than anything on the screen. There also is an awful lot of (poorly spoken) English for a Soviet production. It is almost hallucinogenic at times, with the spy suddenly realizing that his entire world has been turned topsy-turvy and he no longer is in control of his destiny.

Battleground Soviet

It's a curious animation that, somewhat unexpectedly, does not portray the Soviet assassin as all-powerful, but rather a solitary man on the run - just like the Soviet Union of the time. It is one of Stephen King's better short stories. There is a live-action American version of this with William Hurt. This version is from talented Soviet animator Mikhail Titov — whose previous work includes How the Cossacks Played Football (1970). Here, he turned King’s short story “Battleground“ (1972) into an animated movie, titled simply Сражение or Battle.

The spy just so happens to be the spitting image of Vladimir Putin - especially his eyes - which is kind of eerie. But then, at that time - that's exactly what Vladimir Putin was doing. He never speaks - but he does laugh.

Battleground Soviet

From the youtube page:

This is an animated short from USSR Ukraine studio Kievnauchfilm. Titled Srazhenie (The Battle) it is based on Stephen King's short story Battleground. Animation dates to 1986. The short story is from 1978.

There has also been an American made for tv version of this short story featuring William Hurt. It's called Battlefield from Nightmares and Dreamscapes.

Battleground Soviet


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