This eight-minute Soviet production from 1976 by famed animator Fyodor Khitruk for Soyuzmultfilm transforms the story of Icarus from one of hubris and heedlessness into one of ingenuity and perseverance, as the hero keeps trying to find new ways to fly, in spite of the skepticism and narrowmindedness of the community elders (whose views are expressed in pithy Latin phrases). The motif of resistance to authority, which is so prevalent in 1970s animation, is on clear display here, as is Khitruk’s distinctive and imaginative artistic style. In the midst of the period of detente from the Cold War, “Icarus and the Wise Men” offers its audience a simple yet profound philosophical meditation on the ideas of freedom, creativity and daring in the face of cynicism and opposition.
Khitruk went on to direct another Classically-themed short in 1982 called “Olympians,” which is filled with imagery of the ancient games and which itself was influenced by the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
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