In this dissertation, I intend to explore how East European drawing and animation styles can be successfully incorporated into Western cinema, as there have not been too many animations or live-action movies that liberate themselves from the conventions of Hollywood. The ones that do subvert Hollywood conventions may either stand out with praise from critics or alienate the audience. This dissertation will examine a few of the most influential European animation artists, including Pyetrovich Ivanov–Vano, a Soviet animator and Russian animation director, sometimes called the "patriarch of Soviet animation"; and Lev Konstantinovich Atamanov, one of the foremost Soviet animation film directors and one of the founders of Soviet animation art. I will be discussing how these animators' artistic styles translate into animations different to what Western culture is used to seeing and how this difference enriches the look and feel of the characters and landscape and how this different look can add to or take away from the storytelling of the animation.
To see how East European art styles in animation have had an impact in Western cinema, I have chosen to examine the works of Western writer and director Tim Burton. At first glance his animations seem very different to those of East European artists. His movies have been heavily focused on darkness and shadows. The characters are deformed and much of the time even scary. Therefore his style seems to present a contrast to the calm and gentle feel of Russian cartoons and stop-motion. However, on closer examination, the similarities start to appear. I intend to explore these similarities and show how subverting the norms of Western cinema can be done successfully.
"...animation in these formerly Communist nations is often not aimed at children - the Fountainhead screening featured selections with the usual childish goofiness, as well as an unsettling anti-Communism protest about freedom of expression." (Snider, 2001)
This dissertation will focus on two set pieces of work created by East European animators: "Seasons" by Ivan Pyetrovich Ivanov-Vano, and "Ballerina on the Boat" by Lev Konstantinovich Atamanov. When comparing the style of these pieces of work to that of Tim Burton, I will be focusing on the stop-motion animations "Vincent", "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Corpse Bride", as these animations are closest to and showcase Tim Burton's drawings and sketches that relate the most to East European animation. I will also examine a few specific scenes and characters from several of his early live-action movies that essentially mirror his animation pieces.
All of these directors have art styles very different from those of the Hollywood movies that follow the usual conventions. From the backgrounds to the main characters that stand out as individual entities, they have a dark tone to them on the surface while at the same time giving the audience a sense of magic and fantasy. These characters and locations that would be horrifying in real life are seen by the audience as friendly and gentle. However, with the more child-friendly movies, for example, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", directed by Tim Burton, with the morning daylight and the colourful sets in the factory, the movie still conveys a sense of the "spooky" because of the shapes and strongly contrasting colours seen on the screen in every scene. When comparing the East European animation styles with Tim Burton's, the balance between the scary and the magical will be a focal point, as this is where these styles subvert the Western conventions the most.
Themes of "Seasons" by Ivan Pyetrovich Ivanov-Vano:
In this section I will be exploring how the background and character designs of the short animation "Seasons" by Ivan Pyetrovich Ivanov-Vano create a unique atmosphere for the audience, and discussing how the set, which was created by setting up layers of glass like a shelf under a...