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Film Club Extra: What Hitler Wants (1941)

This month’s short Film Club Extra film is the 1941 Soviet propaganda film What Hitler Wants. The animated film runs for a little over eight minutes.

As another example of Soviet propaganda, the short film is loosely connected to our main feature of this month, Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.

For more information about the Akira Kurosawa film club, including the full schedule of our propaganda series, check out the film club page.





Its very interesting stuff – though hardly subtle!

One thing that struck me about the animation style – especially the ‘shark’ sequence – it seems to owe a lot to Disney – or is it vice versa? The way the characters move is just like in the early Mickey Mouse reels.

In terms of politics, what I find striking is the emphasis on the ‘political’ nature of the conflict. Its very much Fascists against Communists, not Germans against Russians – in contrast I think to a lot of other propaganda (especially the American propaganda cartoons I’ve seen about Japan), which are more racial in tone.


Vili Maunula

Indeed, subtlety is not the operative word here. It’s a good point that the conflict is painted as largely political in these shorts, and apart from I think the sequence with the paratrooper agents, the enemy is just Hitler. I also find it lovely how the enemy is animated in quite a bit more detail than the almost god-like representations of the allied forces.

As for the direction of influences, my understanding is that Soviet animation was hugely influenced by Disney, at least up until the 1950s.

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