Wow! A Talking Fish! (1983)

This is seven minutes long, but I promise you it’s well-worth watching. It’s an animated film from Armenia, in Russian with sub-titles, written, produced, animated and directed by Robert Saakyants. It’s based on an Armenian folk tale, and at about 1:30 a wizard appears — the animation of this shape-shifter makes this a classic. Check it out:

(Thanks, Thorsten Fleisch)


  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    That was amazing. It reminded me somewhat of ” The Devil and Daniel Mouse ” with all of the changes that the evil creature went through.
    Thanks for posting this.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    That was just brilliant, Jerry!

  • http://niffiwan.livejournal.com/ Niffiwan

    This film is a classic, I’m very happy that someone finally translated it, and that there are other films by this director with English subtitles that are also very much worth watching, which can be found by going to the Animatsiya Wiki (I can’t post a link here because of the spam filter) and searching for films directed by Saakyants at the List of Russian animation subtitled in English.

  • http://richardthefox.blogspot.com/ richard fox

    i found this to be a charming animation
    that somehow reminded me of
    Yellow Submarine!

  • tom Stazer

    What a find!!

  • http://joelbrinkerhoff.blogspot.com/ Joel Brinkerhoff

    Loved it! Thanks.

  • warren

    That fish had some great taste in footwear.

  • http://smomotion.com :: smo ::

    wow!!! that was fantastic! the use of the different mouths on the wizard is great! thanks a lot for posting this one, and happy birthday jerry!

  • Donald C.

    I actually got to see this a while back.
    I’m glad it has subtitles now.

  • http://www.rynda.com Uncle Phil Rynda

    This is awesome!

  • Karl Hungus

    That was astounding!

    Easily the best animated short ever posted on here. I am in love with this film.

  • http://aalong64.blogspot.com Aaron Long

    Wow, that was really great. As others mentioned, it looked similar to Yellow Submarine and the devil from The Devil and Daniel Mouse, but this is far more impressive than either of those in my opinion. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, I’m sure I never would have seen it otherwise.

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will

    Holy moley–you weren’t kidding–one of the most imaginative pieces I have ever seen! I was skeptical for the first minute or so but glad I stuck with it.

    I’ll never doubt you again Jerry!

  • Dock Miles

    There were LOTS of clever touches in that one! From the seagull turning into a curtain to the way the constellations were presented to the hilarious presentation of the guard-dog fish.

    And the Eko-Ho wizard’s voice was a hoot … hoot … hoot … hoo

  • http://www.themissingkey.com Jonathan

    Absolutely brilliant.

    I don’t need another coffee now.

  • Tom Pope

    Ek-ho indeed! The wizard is my new favorite character.

  • Nightmare Is Near

    You wonder how long that took to animate something like that. Robert Saakyants is an animating warrior.

  • Tony Claar

    Astonishing! This shows us all the tip of the drawing animation iceberg where we’ve been stuck for an ice age! What a super imagination!! What a delightful animated film!… it is really ANIMATED!
    Why are we in the “Industry” still so trapped by linear narrative, as well as “reality”. Imagine the universes of joy we could all create if we just loosened up, opened up our minds, and let it truly fly!!
    2D would be so exciting that even Pixar would finally get a run for it’s money. I am 100% certain of this. Look…this brilliant, true artist appears all the way from humble Armenia to teach us know-it-alls how to finally free our art. Astonishing! Take note all!!

  • http://hand-drawn-animation.blogspot.com David Nethery

    I totally agree with what Tony Claar wrote above.

    This inventive piece clearly shows the strengths of hand-drawn animation. So inspiring to see animation this beautiful and surreal , taking us (the viewers) into a uniquely animated world of “the plausible impossible”.

    Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from a Richard Williams interview from 2002 (I have this copied and pinned up over my animation desk) :

    “DL: With the success of Shrek this summer over some traditionally animated films, what are your thoughts about the future of 2D animation?”

    RW: “I think it should go graphic.

    I think it’s a shame when the 2D tries to look like 3D because it can’t. It shouldn’t try to follow the fashion for this burgeoning, expanding computer thing, which is wonderful of itself. The 2D should go do what it does best.

    The Sistine ceiling is pretty impressive but, you can take a drawing of Michelangelo’s and it is, in a way, more impressive than the painting in that you see his direct thinking. There’s something good about an old master’s preparatory drawing, before he does the painting. And the great stuff, say, Degas’ last paintings. You know, those big chalk things of the women in the tub? He couldn’t see very well at that point and they were rough as hell. They’re the best things he ever did!

    And I think we should go that way. I think, because the computer thing can take over all the polished areas so beautifully, we 2D artists should just go back to a hand-crafted approach. Obvious drawings that walk and talk.

    http://www.awn.com/articles/people/interview-richard-williams

  • http://jaggedsmile.wordpress.com Jaggedsmile

    What a beautiful work of art!

  • Emily

    Very inspiring animation, and well-told story. Kept me interested ’til the end :)

  • http://okgrillo.blogspot.com Oscar Grillo

    Amazing! Better that the genie in Aladdin!…Looks like drawn by Corny Cole!

  • Jonah Sidhom

    That was awesome. I stopped reading the captions when the wizard Ekh appeared – I couldn’t stop watching the animation.

  • http://www.frankrause.com/franimation/ Fran Krause

    That was a real beauty.

  • http://www.selcouthblog.blogspot.com/ Mesterius

    Fantastic. Just fantastic. This is one of those rare examples showcasing that good storytelling can actually be combined with truly imaginative animation without one of those elements going on the expence of the other. In this film, they work completely in tandem to create a marvelous animated universe.

  • http://danvolodar.ru/eng danvolodar

    Actually, Tony Claar, the short was made back in the Soviet Union, and the soviet animation school always included lots of hard manual work.
    Minding that you get comparable box office whether you dra everything by hand, or settle with much less labour-intensive computer animation; I don’t believe such an approach can be viable with the market economics, and especially not with the market economics in Armenia.