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Festival Year Festival Section
2013 Animation - Soviet Silent Animation

Alternative Title 1 [Una fra le tante]
Alternative Title 2 [One of Many]
Alternative Title 3
Country USSR
Release Date 1927
Production Co. Mezhrabpom-Rus

Format   Speed (fps)
35mm   21
Footage   Time
444 m.   18'20"

Archive Source Gosfilmofond, Moscow
Print Notes Didascalie in russo / Russian intertitles

Aleksandra Kudriavtseva (studentessa di cinema/a film school student)
Other Credits
scen: Nikolai Khodatayev, et al.; f./ph: Pavel Mershin; scg./des: Nikolai Khodatayev, Valentina Brumberg, Zinaida Brumberg, Olga Khodatayeva; aiuto regia/asst. dir: Tatiana Lukashevich
Other Information
anim. (figure ritagliate e articolate/flat-figure marionettes [articulated cut-outs]), riprese dal vero/live action)
Program Notes
Among the Soviet studios’ earliest animation departments, one of the most versatile was that established at Mezhrabpom-Rus with the help of graduates of the State Film Technicum’s experimental animation workshop.
After the workshop’s dissolution, one of its founders, Nikolai Khodatayev, began to take commissions from different studios. In 1926, he combined animation and live action – for one of the first times in Soviet cinema – in an educational short about the importance of correct mail addressing made for Goskino’s 3rd Film Factory. Khodatayev used this combination again the following year in One of Many, an “animated comedy” produced by Mezhrabpom-Rus. Khodatayev recalled that in his efforts to combine animation and live action he had been inspired by a programme of films from Max Fleischer’s Out of the Inkwell series, which he saw in Moscow in 1924 – although, admittedly, he felt that Fleischer’s characters “floated in space” and were not “on the same plane with the photographed objects”.
One of Many should probably be viewed as a supplement to The Kiss of Mary Pickford (Potselui Meri Pikford, 1927; shown at the 2008 Giornate), an “acted” comedy about the excesses of fandom and admiration for Hollywood, co-produced by Mezhrabpom-Rus. The story in The Kiss was built around documentary footage of the visit of Pickford and Fairbanks to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1926; fragments of this footage were also used in the live-action sequence of One of Many.
Besides Pickford and Fairbanks (both as themselves and as animated characters), One of Many cites Griffith, Chaplin, and other luminaries of American cinema, as well as the Danish comic actors Carl Schenstrøm and Harald Madsen, who were very popular in Russia as Pat and Patachon, but, of course, did not belong to the American film culture.
While extending the friendly irony towards American cinema which pervaded Bushkin’s A Mysterious Ring, One of Many went considerably further, reflecting on the conflict between fantasy and reality, maybe in reference to the dream sequence in Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. (1924), which had been playing in Soviet cinemas under the title The Obsessed (Oderzhimyi).
Besides some ingenious trick photography linking live-action and animation segments, One of Many boasts sophisticated background designs – for example, in the scene of the heroine’s imaginary transportation to Hollywood – provided by Khodatayev’s sister Olga, and Valentina and Zinaida Brumberg, who had worked under Khodatayev’s guidance on China Aflame (Kitai v Ogne, 1925) and later joined, as directors, the Soviet animation élite.
One of Many was one of the last direct – and, arguably, one of the smartest – Soviet cinematic tributes to American cinema and the exotic vitality of American life. It appeared at the moment when domestic productions were squeezing foreign films out of the Soviet market.
The film’s unfair characterization as a “primitive fairy tale” in 1936 was most likely induced by the aggravation of the negative official attitude towards non-Soviet cultural products. Paradoxically, the mid-1930s were also the time when Soviet animation was enthusiastically embracing Walt Disney’s method and style, effectively ending the animation careers of Khodatayev and some of his most creative colleagues. – Sergei Kapterev