Alexei Karayev’s Welcome (1986)

Welcome

What would happen if some Russians took a Dr. Seuss story and turned it into a paint-on-glass animated short? The results would be Welcome (1986), a gorgeous ten-minute cartoon directed by Alexei Karayev. It is based on Dr. Seuss’s 1948 book Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose. The film’s art director was a young Aleksandr Petrov, who today is the most famous proponent of the paint-on-glass animation technique with films like The Old Man and the Sea (1999). The three-dimensional rendering of the painted figures in Welcome is absolutely stunning; they manage to build on Seuss’s original line drawings while retaining the warmth and appeal of his characters, which is quite an accomplishment considering how easy it is to make Seuss’s characters cold and unappealing.

One more note: the film is in Russian, but the YouTube version below is translated into English. The translation was done by Brew reader ESN, who also sent me the link to this film. A big thank you for translating this and allowing all of us to enjoy the film.


  • http://www.travisgentry.com Travis Gentry

    Personally I like the new Horton pics. Yeah, it looks like sterile 3D, but they did a nice job on the character designs, and they look pretty expressive.

  • Sean

    Quite a beautiful piece. It’s unfortunate that I haven’t yet encountered Seuss’s original work before seeing this; it would be truly inspiring to see a more familiar (to me) story adapted in this fashion. Very well-crafted.

  • Dogma Addict

    Interesting… I own the book and have always perceived it to be a statement against communism and the welfare state. Funny that a Russian animator would adapt it.

  • John A

    When I was little I would take this book out of the library and draw all the animal characters from it. My favorite picture was the last page that showed all the moochers stuffed and mounted. (weird ending for a kids book) I’m guessing that PETA has had something to do with why I’ve never seen this book reprinted anywhere.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Being reminded, an English-dubbed version of this film was released by Expanded Entertainment in one fo their compilations, “Animation Celebration Vol. 3″. This tape though would be extremely out-of-print now and copies could go for top dollar on eBay nowadays. Too bad I didn’t think of it beforehand or I’d stick that up on YouTube as well for those that didn’t want to have subtitles. :-)

  • Mike C.

    Wow, thank you for posting this Amid. I had the Dr. Seuss book when I was a kid, and after watching the short I can see why I loved the book so much. It brings back a lot of memories. The animation is terrific as well! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.mukpuddy.com Mukpuddy

    Man this is so cool!! That painting on glass stuff melts my brain!!

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    Aleksandr Petrov’s new film “My Love” won quite a few awards at the Open Russian Festival of Animated Film a few days ago – anyone interested can check it out over here. There are some links to clips from the film.

    Dogma Addict: Yeah, it is, isn’t it? The film was made in 1986, at the beginning of perestroika – that might explain it, because for the first time a film like this could slip through the censors. A lot of Americans don’t realize that most people in the Soviet Union hated their system and believed that capitalism was infinitely better (as stated by the wildy-exaggerated claims coming from Voice of America radio that everyone believed at the time). The US won the propaganda war for the minds of Soviet citizens very early on – because of better living conditions, but also because their government had learned how to control public opinion through much more subtle means than the Soviets ever did. A lot of Russians were disillusioned in the 1990s (and many remain so), but that was still to come…

    Check out some of the other films on the Youtube account, too – you might find something interesting…

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    On the other hand, I might add, the story in the film could be interpreted as a morality tale on why people shouldn’t freeload off the government (that is, if you freeload, the government will eventually cast you off). The USSR DID encourage the slogan “he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat”.

    And the ending of the film certainly leaves things a bit ambiguous – it’s not nearly as clear-cut as in Seuss’s original tale, where the animals all end up as hunter’s trophies.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com GagaMan

    Beautiful. I always find myself in awe of paint-on-glass films. The dimension, the texture, the freedom of movement. It’s truly a technique that only a real talent could master.

    As for BlueSky’s Horton, I think it’s looks nice from what we’ve seen so far, but I’ll wait till I see them moving before I give full judgment, but I have hope in BlueSky in doing a good job, as I have a lot of respect for the studio’s work (2nd only to Pixar CGI-feature wise, in my books).

  • http://www.twitchfilm.net/ Al Young

    That was visually mind blowning. Heres a trailer to Aleksandr Petrov’s My Love which earned him the Excellence Prize at the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival. Each and every single frame in this animation is a great piece of work.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    Al Young, a better quality version of that trailer has been available on the Ghibli website for some time:
    http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/mezame/trailer/

    Here are a few scenes subtitled in English from the Pascal Blais website:
    http://www.pascalblais.com/it_petrov_08.html

    They also have some great commercials by Petrov:
    http://www.pascalblais.com/it_petrov_09.html
    http://www.pascalblais.com/it_petrov_01.html
    http://www.pascalblais.com/it_petrov_06.html

  • http://www.twitchfilm.net/ Al Young

    Wow, thanks for the links, Esn.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    You’re welcome. :)

    By the way, I’ve found something interesting…
    http://www.animator.ru/db/?ver=eng&p=show_film&fid=4811

    If that is what I think it is, then Alexei Karayev also directed a version of “Horton Hears a Who” in 1992, the same story that’s being made into a feature film now by Blue Sky Studios. I wonder if he actually got copyright permission for either one of these films? My guess is “no”, which might mean that neither “Welcome” nor that film will never make their way to the West in any kind of official release…

    The art director for the above film, by the way (Valentin Olshvang) made an absolutely breathtaking film in 2003 called “Pro rakov” (About Crayfish), which won the Grand Prix at Suzdal 2004…

    Anyway, I’ll try and post both of these films up somewhere if I can find them.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Well here’s an English-language edition of this short, just for comparison!

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    Thanks for uploading that Chris – I’ve added some comments on the page. I must say that I absolutely despise what those people did to the soundtrack when they translated it… all of the things that are wrong about the animation industry here in the West – the lack of respect for animation as anything more than a medium for stupid kids, the creative control by those who don’t understand quality – can be seen in how “Welcome” was translated into English. Even ignoring the ridiculous faux Russian accents, those voice actors are acting as if they’re cartoon characters, whereas the Russians acted like they were real people. The difference is significant and crucial.

    As a result, the English-language version is painful to watch. Honestly, what it most reminded me off was the experience of watching the Miramax cut of “The Thief and the Cobbler” after first watching the “Recobbled Cut”. The same feeling of “Oh God, how could they make such a brilliant scene so horrible?”

  • Chris Sobieniak

    After reading what Esn said, I’m afraid to expose him to this Eduard Nazarov classic (at least they don’t try to use faux accents)!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpNN2_OKB-c

  • Mint

    That’s really cool.

  • http://Desu CandyShopGirl

    Wazzup!

    What do you think about Apple Iogo? >:)