CULTURE

Nu, Pogodi! An Enduring, classic Soviet slapstick cartoon

June 28, 2022
A brief history of one of the most iconic Soviet cartoons and how the rebellious Wolf became a classic character on which Soviet generations grew up
The website PopKult released in November 2021 an article by Julie Hersh and Sophia Rehm about the cult Soviet cartoon Nu, Pogodi! The article is a translation of a LiveJournal post by Russian blogger Vitaly Dubogrei.

At the center of Nu, Pogodi! is a wolf and a hare, often compared to the American Tom and Jerry. Each episode ends with the defeat of the wolf and his trademark phrase “just you wait!” (“nu, pogodi!”). The wolf is depicted as a classic Soviet hooligan, while the hare, in contrast, is a role model. Created in the 1970s by Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin, Nu, Pogodi! is an iconic cartoon depicting everyday Soviet life, making socially acceptable ironic situations and the wolf’s rebellious character.

Nu, Pogodi! was commissioned by the Soviet authorities, which sought an answer to Disney cartoons. The well-known humorists Alexander Kurlyandsky, Arkady Khait, Felix Kamov and Eduard Uspensky developed the concept of the cartoon: the wolf is supposed to be a goofy villain who always ends up falling into his own traps, while the clever and crafty hare knows how to take advantage of the stupidity of the wolf. In 1969 director Gennady Sokolsky shot an original short film, which fell victim to censorship. Eventually it was Kotyonochkin who changed the appearance of the characters. The image of the wolf came to him when he “saw a guy on the street, leaning against the wall of a house… [with] long black hair, a cigarette stuck to his thick lips, his stomach hanging out.”

The 16 episodes of the cartoon under the auspices of Soyuzmultfilm are considered the “golden era” of Soviet cartoons and are the most loved by fans. It was stopped after the death of Anatoly Papanov, the legendary voice of the wolf, but was renewed for several episodes later. The characters were also used in the Soviet comedic documentary series Fitil, as well as in advertising and other animated shows both in the Soviet period and after the collapse of the USSR. All of the episodes feature melodies from the last decades of the Soviet Union that were popular at the time across the Communist Bloc and USSR and taken from the archives of All-Union Radio or from the personal record collections of the sound producers.

Digest written by the Russia.Post editorial team. See the original here.
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