“Mr. Freeman” Is The Most Popular Russian Cartoon You’ve Never Heard Of

Mr. Freeman is a philosophical Web series from Russia that apparently has been causing quite a stir since it debuted a year and a half ago. Start here for a lengthy explanation of what Mr. Freeman is about and how its influencing Russian youth:

Mr. Freeman cartoons have no political messages. They focus on existential, philosophical issues of everyday life. Mr. Freeman appeals to the spectators, portraying the emptiness of their lives, which consist of consumerism, entertainment and laughing at others. The first part of the movie was entitled “Are you sure about who you are and whether you exist?” “Are you real? Are you unique? You are just a small screw in the system,” says Mr. Freeman. He gradually and consistently deconstructs the world of a typical RuNet user, mocking values, common knowledge, morality and social hierarchies.

Some of the episodes, like the one above, have been translated by fans into English. The show’s creators remain unknown, perhaps due to the subversive nature of the material. What’s clear is that some really talented artists are working on it. While the style is spare, the skill of the animation, drawing, and filmmaking are all of an extremely high caliber.

(Thanks, Yoni Salmon)


  • Stephan

    This is so amazing. I wish Criterion would begin releasing Eastern European animation, it would give all of these things the audience they deserve!

    (For the longest time “Worker and Drone” from the Simpsons kind of colored the popular stereotype.)

  • Isaac

    For all its supposed existential, philosophical issues, it seems like all it does is toss around factoids, clichés, and juvenile angst, without being particularly witty or sharp about it. The condescending tone and ample hypocrisy don’t help, either.

  • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

    Da. Is like to resembling “Worker and Parasite”, no? Da. No?

    It’s interesting that they find it interesting but I doubt it would catch fire here because the themes have been well-trodden in our media for ages.

    People are excessively consumerist? Around Christmas time here we hear that more often than “Jingle Bells”.

    • Was My Face Red

      As Cartoon Brew wants to be a worldwide amimation destination if might be nice if American posters remembered they are actually talking to a whole planet not just their near neighbours.

  • Stephen M. Levinson

    I love it. The messages of philosophical and social issues were presented very well. The voice and style of the film i thought worked nicely together.

  • A.

    There’s a video, recently posted on vimeo by the actual author i believe which is actually dubbed in english by one of the creators(?). It’s the first part translated much better than the one subbed on youtube.

    http://vimeo.com/17589726

    :)

    • Tim Douglas

      Thanks for the link to the dub, I’m generally the subs only type but it’s easier to keep up with the dub for this.

      I Completely agree with Stephen M. Levinson, this series is fantastic.

      “the themes have been well-trodden in our media for ages.”

      This is hardly the first time Russians have explored these ideas either, it’s about the execution, which is FANTASTIC.
      It doesn’t beat around the bush or try to persuade you through typical devices. It strips all that away and challenges you by throwing its message right in your face, forcing you to deny it (if you can) or accept it – wherever in the world you are.

      BTW – loving all the shorts recently, is this a fresh brew? (sorry)

  • Shawn’s Bro

    the themes have been well-trodden in our media for ages.

    What would be particularly interesting from Russian animators at this point in time would be something addressing the philosophical and social issues of tyranny, individual freedom and democracy. But then that could be both career and life limiting with the country being on the cusp of a fascist dictatorship.

    • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

      That’s be interesting from American animators too :)

      • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

        That’d rather. Embarrassing to misspell sarcastic comments, sorry. :(

    • Stephen M. Levinson

      I agree. Especially with American animators. I think though that it is cowardly to post anonymously. If you’re going to make a statement, make it. Making bold statements anonymously loses all credibility.

      • red pill junkie

        Well, let’s keep in perspective that Russia is a place where criticism can be rewarded with a nice hot soup laced with polonium :-/

        PS: I like the animation, and the message. The pace is a bit too quick for me though, specially if you’re trying to read subtitles —although the dubbed version wasn’t much of an improvement either, time for an expresso?

  • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

    Must be some kind of PHP script you guys can install to auto-ban anyone who posts the phrase “worker and parasite”… I mean, nobody for whom that’s the first thing which springs to mind when they see a piece of russian/eastern european animation actually has any business on an animation blog, right?

  • x

    Oh god, how much pedantry in here.
    Russian animators seem perfectly able to handle their own issues as they see fit, without all your input on what they should- or are not able to- do.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bORRTn1uCbo

  • Azeke

    It’s truly heartbreaking to see

    1) so many stereotyped posts especially from countries who claim to be societies of free thought
    2) outrightly stupid and bigoted views especially in discussion of of this series which actually is pretty clever

    As to my own opinion — the series IS clever, but at the same time stays shallow and tries too much to be “hip” and “cool”, which i find to be annoying. Animation is great though.

  • Mark Walton

    Awesome execution, mostly really interesting imagery. Thanks a ton for posting this!