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Animated Film and Socialist Realism in Poland, 1949–1955 (07.2022)
When the doctrine of socialist realism was proclaimed in Polish cinema in November 1949, the production of animated films was only taking its first steps after World War Two. The industry lacked human resources, equipment, buildings, celluloid sheets, distribution system and success. Animators were forced to achieve new goals that were often both ambitious and contradictory. In this new reality, cartoons and puppet films had to be realistic and subordinated to the dominant political doctrine. Addressed to children exclusively, they presented educational and didactic features and were focused on several contemporary topics such as the construction of communism or official propaganda. At the same time, they were supposed to be artistic, technically perfect, addressed to the millions and compatible with Soviet animation practice from Soyuzmultfilm (which was the most important animation studio in the Soviet Union). This article identifies how Polish filmmakers strived to achieve these goals, and discusses the problems faced by young and inexperienced animators under Stalinist culture’s political pressure. The author examines the films produced in that period, verifies them against their assigned political tasks, and shows the absurdities of socialist realism in animation that wanted to reconcile contradictions such as entertainment and education, realism and fairy tales, artistic values and propaganda. Finally, the article explains the impact of these films on the future of Polish animation.
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