SAMOYED BOY (1928)
aka Samoedskii malchik
Article 4462 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Valentina Brumberg and Zinaida Brumberg
Country: Soviet Union
What it is: Animated Soviet propaganda
A young Eskimo manages to defeat a polar bear, but the greedy shaman master to whom he is employed steals the bear for his own food. Can the boy exact revenge?
Sometimes, for one reason or another, I’ll have a movie on my hunt list for a while before I realize that I have a copy of it; sometimes this is due to the size of my collection and sometimes it’s because I was unable to correctly document its existence in my collection. As it turns out, I had this movie in a collection of Soviet animated propaganda that I had picked up for another movie on my hunt list, but at the time of my purchase, there was no listing for this short on IMDB and so I lost track of it. This being propaganda, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but it can be evaluated on how well it illustrates its point. On this level, it works well enough for most of its running time; the shaman is obviously the capitalist who takes everything for his own and rules by fear over those under him, using an idol which can supposedly move of its own accord; in reality, it’s being manipulated by a worker. As long as the story focuses on the conflict between the boy and the shaman, it works well enough and is even mildly entertaining, at least partially because the animation is well done. However, after the story has properly ended, the short has the boy leaving the North and going to a worker’s school in the Soviet Union to be properly indoctrinated, a development that adds nothing to the story and only seems to be designed to pound the messages home. That’s propaganda for you, and that’s why so much of it is pretty weak. The existence of the shaman and his idol provide the fantastic content.