My Favourite Piece of Soviet Animation
Everyone should have a favourite piece of Soviet-era animation, and mine is below. It is an adaptation of Ray Bradbuy’s short story There Will Come Soft Rains. It isn’t in high-definition, but the slightly fuzzy presentation (like it comes from a VHS tape) adds to the aesthetic. And yes, it is subtitled.
Set in the aftermath of a nuclear blast, it shows how the world attempts to go on without humans. It is easy enough for humans to sympathize with human characters in works of fiction, in this, we find some sympathy for our creations and nature.
The robot is a tragic figure, carrying on completely unaware that its services are no longer needed. There is no one to eat the fried eggs or drink the hot coffee, but it persists. Further sadness ensues when the robot’s programming ultimately leads to its destruction as well. This suggests that humans are so keen to destroy ourselves that our creations cannot help but do the same.
I find this retelling of Soft Rains to be rather haunting, especially the audio. The background music sets a very eerie tone, but the robot’s voice seals the deal. A harsh and mechanical tone is accentuated by the foreign language and really plays up the juxtaposition with its happy, rhyming words.
If you Want More
Someone has been kind enough to provide online a full text of There Will Come Soft Rains, with annotations no less. The animation can be enjoyed without reading the story, but you may want to circle back and give it a read after watching. There are differences, it is interesting to note them as you read along.
And since I also happen to have second, and third, and fourth, and so on favourite pieces of Soviet animation, I’ll be featuring those on the NCI Blog in the coming weeks. Watch for more!