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Aleksei Simukov , Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaia

Prometheus [Прометей]

YEAR: 1974

COUNTRY: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

Cateogry icon

Title of the work

Prometheus [Прометей]

Studio / Production Company

Soyuzmultfilm

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Original Language

Russian

First Edition Date

1974

First Edition Details

Прометей [Prometheus]. Directed by Aleksandra Shezhko-Blotskaia, Script by Aleksei Simukov. Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece 5. Moscow: Soyuzmultfilm, 1974.

Running time

19 min 24 sec

Format

1974

Date of the First DVD or VHS

2005 (DVD)

Available Onllne

The movie is available on the “Soyuzmultfilm” youtube channel (accessed: August 17, 2018).

Genre

Animated films
Hand-drawn animation (traditional animation)*
Myths
Short films

Target Audience

Children (6+)

Cover

Courtesy of the Film Video Association “Крупный план” (Close-up, accessed: August 17, 2018).


Author of the Entry:

Hanna Paulouskaya, University of Warsaw, hannapa@al.uw.edu.pl

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com 

Lisa Maurice, Bar-Ilan University, lisa.maurice@biu.ac.il

Male portrait

Aleksei Simukov , 1904 - 1995
(Screenwriter, Scriptwriter)

Aleksei Simukov was born in St Petersburg, in a family belonging to the intelligentsia. He received classical education at the Third Classical Gymnasium (the only one in St Petersburg where Greek and Latin was taught at the time). In 1925 Aleksei Simukov moved to Moscow. He studied at the art studio of Ilya Mashkov at the Association of the Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR) and also at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. 

He began writing plays for theatre and cinema, including animation. He preferred comical and lyrical genres, following the tradition of the 19th-century Russian theatre. 

Aleksei Simukov was a lecturer at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. He was a literary editor of the Soyuzmultfilm studio (1944–46), worked at the Ministry of cinematography of the USSR (1947–50), later at the Union of Soviet Writers (1950s), and still later at the Theatre Department of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR (1964–71) having influence on the repertory of the theaters in the country. 

In his memoirs Simukov writes about scripts for the movies of Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaia about the Greek mythology. He says that at that time he became fascinated by myths. They inspired him to continue developing this theme and he also wrote two plays about the Greek mythology. These were Гори, гори ясно (Burn, Burn, Brightly) about Heracles and Prometheus, and Взгляд Медузы (A Glance of Medusa) about Perseus. 

His life spanned pre-revolutionary and post-Soviet Russia; he finished his memoirs in 1994, a year before he died.


Bio prepared by Hanna Paulouskaya, University of Warsaw, hannapa@al.uw.edu.pl 


Female portrait

Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaia , 1909 - 1980
(Director)

Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaia was a Russian animator and movie director.

Born in Vovchansk in Kharkiv Oblast (today in Ukraine), she later moved to Moscow oblast and Moscow. In 1925–26 she studied at the Fëdor Rerberg Art School. In 1926 she joined an art studio at the Association of the Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR). She also studied at the Architecture and Construction Institute. 

From 1934 she worked at animation. First, at the Союзкинотехника ([Soviet] Union Cinema Techniques), then at the Experimental Cartoon Studio directed by Victor Fëdorovich Smirnov, at the Межрабпомфильм (Movies for Workers International Relief). She started as animator, then for a long time worked as assistant-director for Ivan Ivanov-Vano. From 1956 she worked independently and produced film adaptations of fairy tales of different nations: Verlioka (a Russian folktale, 1957), Янтарный замок ([An Amber Castle], a Lithuanian folktale, 1959), Дракон ([A Dragon], a Burmese folktale, 1960–61), Чудесный сад ([A Miraculous Garden], a Kazakh folktale, 1962), Дочь солнца ([The Sun’s Daughter], a Chukchi folktale, 1964). 

She also adapted Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (1965) and The Cat that Walked by Himself (1968) by Rudyard Kipling as well as Сказка о золотом петушке ([The Tale of the Golden Cockerel], 1967) by Alexander Pushkin.

In 1969–74 she produced a series of movies about Greek mythology commissioned by the Ministry of Education of the USSR: Возвращение с Олимпа (The Return from Olympus, 1969), Лабиринт – подвиги Тесея (Labyrinth, the Deeds of Theseus, 1970–71), Argonauts (1972), Perseus (1973), Prometheus (1974). It was the most important series of animated movies about Greek mythology ever made in the USSR. The Return from Olympus was the first movie in the series Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece.


Bio prepared by Hanna Paulouskaya, University of Warsaw, hannapa@al.uw.edu.pl 


Summary

On Mount Olympus there is a divine fire guarded by an Eagle. Hephaestus invents a machine with four hands to guard the fire. Caring for mortals on Earth, Prometheus steals the fire and gives it to them. Human beings are transformed into civilized Greeks thanks to this gift.

Zeus sends the Eagle and Hephaestus to extinguish the fire on Earth and to punish Prometheus. Due to the flood sent by Zeus, the fire is almost completely out. Prometheus gives the last spark to a human family he meets. People are saved, but Prometheus loses his power and is chained by Hephaestus; he is then tortured by the Eagle, who like a KGB or police officer demands answers about Prometheus’ motivation in helping mortals. When Prometheus truthfully replies that helping people was his goal, the Eagle laughs and doesn’t believe him. Mortals manage to keep the fire in defiance of Zeus.

Analysis

This is the last movie from the series “Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece” which entirety merits to be included in the database. This movie is especially interesting because of its topic. The character of Prometheus was a key figure for the Soviet culture. He was a hero who fought against the gods in order to help mortals, who valued them more than himself, who was tortured and suffered for his good deeds. The fire he brought to Earth usually was interpreted as the fire of knowledge (“Prometheus” was a frequent name for bookstores in the USSR). These ideas – fight with gods (or atheism), revolution, humanism, self-denial, patience, enlightenment – were of crucial importance for the Soviet ideology.

In the movie Prometheus explains why he brought the fire to people as follows: “When people will get the divine fire, they will become like us, gods.” So he fights for equal rights for all, like a believer in Communist International who longs for the coming of world communism.

Prometheus also teaches people skills, for example how to work with stone. He clearly advocates for the working class.

Another important character of the movie is Hephaestus. He is a skillful inventor able to fabricate a robot. He looks like an artisan and he is also a true member of working class. Though he does not care about people, he cares about his friend Prometheus. When he is sent to punish him, Hephaestus has moral issues: he doesn’t want to harm Prometheus, but is accompanied by the Eagle and cannot avoid his task. The topic of helping a friend (often in the form of sacrificing one’s life for a friend) was central for the Soviet cinema about World War II. Though Hephaestus doesn’t oppose Zeus and he is not a revolutionary hero, he tries to stay loyal to his friend and reveals moral issues, torn between the authority and the friend. 

The Eagle is the same one as in the first movie of the series (The Return from Olympus). He acts in the name of Zeus and plays the role of jailer and inquisitor at the end of the movie.


Further Reading

Bogdanova, Siuzanna, “Очерки о жизни и творчестве Александры Гавриловны Снежко-Блоцкой” [Essays on the Life and Work of Aleksandra Gavrilovna Snezhko-Blotskaia], Kinograf 19 (2008): 207–240.

Simukov, Aleksei, Чертов мост, или Моя жизнь как пылинка Истории [A Devil's Bridge or My Life as a Speck of History], Moskva: Agraf, 2008.

Profile at animator.ru (accessed: August 17, 2018).

Profile at imdb.com (accessed: August 17, 2018). 

Profile at kinopoisk.ru (accessed: August 17, 2018).

Addenda

The Remaining Production Credits:

Music by Vitaly Geviksman (1924–2007); Cinematography by Boris Kotov (1922–1984); Art direction by Aleksandr Trusov (1912–1988); Sound director Boris Filchikov; 

Animators: Nikolai Fëdorov; V. Kolesnikova; V. Kushnerev; O. Orlova; O. Safronov; Viktor Shevkov; V. Shevchenko.


Date of the First VHS and DVD Edition:

According to Wikipedia (accessed: August 17, 2018), the movie was released in the 1980s on VHS in the series “Видеопрограмма Госкино СССР” (Video program of the State Committee for Cinematography of the USSR). I was unable to confirm this information. 

The movie was released on DVD in 2005 by Film Video Association “Крупный план” (Close-up, accessed: August 17, 2018) in a collection of movies called Легенды и мифы Древней Греции [Legends and Myths of the Ancient Greece]. The DVD also contained the movies Возвращение с Олимпа [Return from Olympus], Аргонавты [The Argonauts] and Персей [Perseus] by A. Snezhko-Blotskaia and Геракл у Адмета [Hercules at the Court of Admetus] by Anatoly Petrov.

It is also part of a collection of movies called Аргонавты [The Argonauts] (Фильмы А. Снежко-Блоцкой, вып. 3 [Movies by A. Snezhko-Blotskaia, Disc 3]) released by the same company in 2009. The DVD contained also movies Аргонавты [The Argonauts], Лабиринт. Подвиги Тесея [Labyrinth. The Deeds of Theseus], Персей [Perseus].

There were other releases of the DVDs after 2009.

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Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Prometheus [Прометей]

Studio / Production Company

Soyuzmultfilm

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Original Language

Russian

First Edition Date

1974

First Edition Details

Прометей [Prometheus]. Directed by Aleksandra Shezhko-Blotskaia, Script by Aleksei Simukov. Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece 5. Moscow: Soyuzmultfilm, 1974.

Running time

19 min 24 sec

Format

1974

Date of the First DVD or VHS

2005 (DVD)

Available Onllne

The movie is available on the “Soyuzmultfilm” youtube channel (accessed: August 17, 2018).

Genre

Animated films
Hand-drawn animation (traditional animation)*
Myths
Short films

Target Audience

Children (6+)

Cover

Courtesy of the Film Video Association “Крупный план” (Close-up, accessed: August 17, 2018).


Author of the Entry:

Hanna Paulouskaya, University of Warsaw, hannapa@al.uw.edu.pl

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com 

Lisa Maurice, Bar-Ilan University, lisa.maurice@biu.ac.il

Male portrait

Aleksei Simukov (Screenwriter, Scriptwriter)

Aleksei Simukov was born in St Petersburg, in a family belonging to the intelligentsia. He received classical education at the Third Classical Gymnasium (the only one in St Petersburg where Greek and Latin was taught at the time). In 1925 Aleksei Simukov moved to Moscow. He studied at the art studio of Ilya Mashkov at the Association of the Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR) and also at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. 

He began writing plays for theatre and cinema, including animation. He preferred comical and lyrical genres, following the tradition of the 19th-century Russian theatre. 

Aleksei Simukov was a lecturer at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. He was a literary editor of the Soyuzmultfilm studio (1944–46), worked at the Ministry of cinematography of the USSR (1947–50), later at the Union of Soviet Writers (1950s), and still later at the Theatre Department of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR (1964–71) having influence on the repertory of the theaters in the country. 

In his memoirs Simukov writes about scripts for the movies of Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaia about the Greek mythology. He says that at that time he became fascinated by myths. They inspired him to continue developing this theme and he also wrote two plays about the Greek mythology. These were Гори, гори ясно (Burn, Burn, Brightly) about Heracles and Prometheus, and Взгляд Медузы (A Glance of Medusa) about Perseus. 

His life spanned pre-revolutionary and post-Soviet Russia; he finished his memoirs in 1994, a year before he died.


Bio prepared by Hanna Paulouskaya, University of Warsaw, hannapa@al.uw.edu.pl 


Female portrait

Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaia (Director)

Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaia was a Russian animator and movie director.

Born in Vovchansk in Kharkiv Oblast (today in Ukraine), she later moved to Moscow oblast and Moscow. In 1925–26 she studied at the Fëdor Rerberg Art School. In 1926 she joined an art studio at the Association of the Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR). She also studied at the Architecture and Construction Institute. 

From 1934 she worked at animation. First, at the Союзкинотехника ([Soviet] Union Cinema Techniques), then at the Experimental Cartoon Studio directed by Victor Fëdorovich Smirnov, at the Межрабпомфильм (Movies for Workers International Relief). She started as animator, then for a long time worked as assistant-director for Ivan Ivanov-Vano. From 1956 she worked independently and produced film adaptations of fairy tales of different nations: Verlioka (a Russian folktale, 1957), Янтарный замок ([An Amber Castle], a Lithuanian folktale, 1959), Дракон ([A Dragon], a Burmese folktale, 1960–61), Чудесный сад ([A Miraculous Garden], a Kazakh folktale, 1962), Дочь солнца ([The Sun’s Daughter], a Chukchi folktale, 1964). 

She also adapted Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (1965) and The Cat that Walked by Himself (1968) by Rudyard Kipling as well as Сказка о золотом петушке ([The Tale of the Golden Cockerel], 1967) by Alexander Pushkin.

In 1969–74 she produced a series of movies about Greek mythology commissioned by the Ministry of Education of the USSR: Возвращение с Олимпа (The Return from Olympus, 1969), Лабиринт – подвиги Тесея (Labyrinth, the Deeds of Theseus, 1970–71), Argonauts (1972), Perseus (1973), Prometheus (1974). It was the most important series of animated movies about Greek mythology ever made in the USSR. The Return from Olympus was the first movie in the series Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece.


Bio prepared by Hanna Paulouskaya, University of Warsaw, hannapa@al.uw.edu.pl 


Summary

On Mount Olympus there is a divine fire guarded by an Eagle. Hephaestus invents a machine with four hands to guard the fire. Caring for mortals on Earth, Prometheus steals the fire and gives it to them. Human beings are transformed into civilized Greeks thanks to this gift.

Zeus sends the Eagle and Hephaestus to extinguish the fire on Earth and to punish Prometheus. Due to the flood sent by Zeus, the fire is almost completely out. Prometheus gives the last spark to a human family he meets. People are saved, but Prometheus loses his power and is chained by Hephaestus; he is then tortured by the Eagle, who like a KGB or police officer demands answers about Prometheus’ motivation in helping mortals. When Prometheus truthfully replies that helping people was his goal, the Eagle laughs and doesn’t believe him. Mortals manage to keep the fire in defiance of Zeus.

Analysis

This is the last movie from the series “Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece” which entirety merits to be included in the database. This movie is especially interesting because of its topic. The character of Prometheus was a key figure for the Soviet culture. He was a hero who fought against the gods in order to help mortals, who valued them more than himself, who was tortured and suffered for his good deeds. The fire he brought to Earth usually was interpreted as the fire of knowledge (“Prometheus” was a frequent name for bookstores in the USSR). These ideas – fight with gods (or atheism), revolution, humanism, self-denial, patience, enlightenment – were of crucial importance for the Soviet ideology.

In the movie Prometheus explains why he brought the fire to people as follows: “When people will get the divine fire, they will become like us, gods.” So he fights for equal rights for all, like a believer in Communist International who longs for the coming of world communism.

Prometheus also teaches people skills, for example how to work with stone. He clearly advocates for the working class.

Another important character of the movie is Hephaestus. He is a skillful inventor able to fabricate a robot. He looks like an artisan and he is also a true member of working class. Though he does not care about people, he cares about his friend Prometheus. When he is sent to punish him, Hephaestus has moral issues: he doesn’t want to harm Prometheus, but is accompanied by the Eagle and cannot avoid his task. The topic of helping a friend (often in the form of sacrificing one’s life for a friend) was central for the Soviet cinema about World War II. Though Hephaestus doesn’t oppose Zeus and he is not a revolutionary hero, he tries to stay loyal to his friend and reveals moral issues, torn between the authority and the friend. 

The Eagle is the same one as in the first movie of the series (The Return from Olympus). He acts in the name of Zeus and plays the role of jailer and inquisitor at the end of the movie.


Further Reading

Bogdanova, Siuzanna, “Очерки о жизни и творчестве Александры Гавриловны Снежко-Блоцкой” [Essays on the Life and Work of Aleksandra Gavrilovna Snezhko-Blotskaia], Kinograf 19 (2008): 207–240.

Simukov, Aleksei, Чертов мост, или Моя жизнь как пылинка Истории [A Devil's Bridge or My Life as a Speck of History], Moskva: Agraf, 2008.

Profile at animator.ru (accessed: August 17, 2018).

Profile at imdb.com (accessed: August 17, 2018). 

Profile at kinopoisk.ru (accessed: August 17, 2018).

Addenda

The Remaining Production Credits:

Music by Vitaly Geviksman (1924–2007); Cinematography by Boris Kotov (1922–1984); Art direction by Aleksandr Trusov (1912–1988); Sound director Boris Filchikov; 

Animators: Nikolai Fëdorov; V. Kolesnikova; V. Kushnerev; O. Orlova; O. Safronov; Viktor Shevkov; V. Shevchenko.


Date of the First VHS and DVD Edition:

According to Wikipedia (accessed: August 17, 2018), the movie was released in the 1980s on VHS in the series “Видеопрограмма Госкино СССР” (Video program of the State Committee for Cinematography of the USSR). I was unable to confirm this information. 

The movie was released on DVD in 2005 by Film Video Association “Крупный план” (Close-up, accessed: August 17, 2018) in a collection of movies called Легенды и мифы Древней Греции [Legends and Myths of the Ancient Greece]. The DVD also contained the movies Возвращение с Олимпа [Return from Olympus], Аргонавты [The Argonauts] and Персей [Perseus] by A. Snezhko-Blotskaia and Геракл у Адмета [Hercules at the Court of Admetus] by Anatoly Petrov.

It is also part of a collection of movies called Аргонавты [The Argonauts] (Фильмы А. Снежко-Блоцкой, вып. 3 [Movies by A. Snezhko-Blotskaia, Disc 3]) released by the same company in 2009. The DVD contained also movies Аргонавты [The Argonauts], Лабиринт. Подвиги Тесея [Labyrinth. The Deeds of Theseus], Персей [Perseus].

There were other releases of the DVDs after 2009.

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