A Greek Tragedy [Een Griekse Tragedie] (1985)

7 min.

Three female statues (Karyatids) make an effort to keep together what remains of an ancient Athenian temple consumed by time and looting.

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 1986, also awarded a Cristal at the 1985 Annecy Festival

Director/Writer: Nicole Van Goethem (Belgium)

More: https://www.awn.com/animationworld/greek-tragedy-women-animation-and-classics-annecy-2015


Run, Melos [走れメロス] (1981, 1st version)

A 68 minute film directed by Tomoharu Katsumata for Fuji TV in Japan. It is based on a very famous Japanese short story written in 1940 by Osamu Dazai, which is itself a reworking of a 1799 ballad called Die Burgschaft by Friedrich Schiller. Both are based on the ancient legend of Damon and Pythias that is preserved in the Fabulae of Gaius Julius Hyginus; however, in both Schiller and Dazai’s versions the main characters’ names have been changed to Melos and Selinuntius.

This is the first of three animated versions of the story, “Run, Melos!”. The second was produced in 1992 and has its own post here, while the third was produced in 2009 and his its own post here.

The story told is one of trust and the power of friendship: Melos, a shepherd, is arrested and accused of conspiracy against the tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse (in this animated version he is innocent of the charge, but in Dazai’s story he is not). He is given three days to travel to his sister’s wedding while Selinuntius, a sculptor and friend of Melos, agrees to stay in his place as the king’s hostage. On his way back from the wedding, he encounters many obstacles and delays, and he considers allowing his friend to die in his place, but finally he decides to try and arrive in time to save Selinuntus. He does so but also implores Selinuntius to hit him, in penance for the treachery he almost committed, but then Selinuntius asks him to do the same, for having doubted Melos’ return. Their display of honesty and loyalty forces the tyrant reconsider his decision and  he lets them both go with impunity.



Olympians [Олимпионики] (1982)

Fyodor Khitruk, no subtitles, 19 min.

From IMDB: “This is a somewhat ironic, but very informative story about the origin, development and decline of the Greek Olympiad tradition, set out with the help of an off-screen commentary read by Z. Gerdt. Ancient history is described in great detail and exciting. In the graphic decision, artists were guided by the ancient Greek monuments, first of all – vase paintings, stylized for them and characters, and decorations, up to imitation cracks. In the film there are a lot of full-scale shots, and in particular it is interesting to frame the photographs of the bas-reliefs of the Pergamon altar shot by Yuriy Norshtein. The film ends with documentary shots of the opening of the Olympics-80 in Moscow.”

See also: The 1981 film “O Sport – You are Peace!”, a documentary about the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, for which much of the animation featured here was originally produced, but not used.



The Birth of Eros [Рождение Эрота] (1989, NSFW)

This is the first of four shorts by Anatoly Petrov for Soyuzmultfilm in the 1990s that depict mythological stories with overtly erotic content, which is unusual in Russian animation. These also include  “Daphne”, “The Nymph Salmacis” and “Polyphemus, Acis and Galatea.” These films are also unique due to their experimental use of two-dimensional handcrafted cell animation as a means of creating three-dimensional effects.

Hercules and Admetus [Геракл у Адмета] (1986)

Nineteen-minute Russian short film animated by Anatoly Petrov. This was his first treatment of mythological material from ancient Greece. He would go on to produce four other shorts for Soyuzmultfilm in the 1990s that depict mythological stories with overtly erotic content, which is unusual in Russian animation. These include “The Birth of Eros”, “Daphne”, “The Nymph Salmacis” and “Polyphemus, Acis and Galatea.” These films are also unique due to their experimental use of two-dimensional handcrafted cell animation as a means of creating three-dimensional effects.

“In the early 1980s , Petrov turned to ancient Greek myths. Incredibly laborious in technical execution, the work on the film Hercules at Admet (1986) lasted five years. “The whole film is a big continuous experiment for me. ‘I wanted to sing a man, convey physical perfection, the beauty of his body, his whole appearance, and through them penetrate the harmonious world of his clear and sublime feelings.'”


Arion [アリオン] (1986)

This feature-film is based on a manga series of the same name that was written and illustrated by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko from 1979 to 1984. Yasuhiko also wrote and directed the film, which tells the story of the youth Arion, who was tricked and kidnapped by Hades as a child. He trains to become a warrior while in the Underworld, believing that Zeus was responsible for blinding his mother and that by killing him he can cure her. Caught in the midst of war between the gods for world domination, he embarks on a quest to reach Olympus and fulfill his goal.

More: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arion_(manga)



Little Pollon [おちゃめ神物語コロコロポロン] (1982-1983)

Wikipedia: Ochamegami Monogatari Korokoro Polon, lit. The Story of Little Goddess Roly-Poly Pollon)is a musical Greek mythology-based Japanese anime television series, based on the 1977 manga Olympus no Pollon (Pollon of Olympus) by Hideo Azuma. The anime television series consisted of 46 episodes and aired across Japan on Fuji TV from May 1982 to March 1983, and was also popular in some Europeancountries. The main character of the story is Pollon, a sweet, precocious little girl who is the daughter of the God of the Sun, Apollo. Pollon’s goal in life is to grow up to become a beautiful and powerful goddess. She attempts to do good deeds and help out any way she can in order to achieve the status of godhood. Invariably, her overtures backfire and end up causing major trouble for both the gods of Olympus and their human subjects. However, Pollon’s kind heart, perseverance and indomitable spirit win out in the end, as she attains the title of “Goddess of Hope.The series is noted for its faithful portrayal of the Gods of Mount Olympus as fallible beings succumbing to real human faults and weaknesses, such as selfishness, temper tantrums, debauchery, laziness, and vanity.

In addition to its success in Japan, Little Pollon was a very successful television program in Italy during the mid-1980s, where it was known as C’era una volta… Pollon (Once upon a time there was… Pollon) and featured an Italian theme song by Cristina D’Avena

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Pollon



Ulysses 31 [宇宙伝説ユリシーズ31 / Ulysse 31] (1981)

This television series sets the mythological tale of Odysseus or Ulysses in the 31st century. The show was originally created for a French audience by a Japanese studio (TMS/Telecom Animation Film in conjunction with DiC Audiovisuel) and comprised 26 half-hour episodes. In this Star Wars inspired version of the story, Ulysses is commander of a spaceship called the Odyssey and he has angered the gods by killing the Cyclops in an effort to save his son Telemachus from enslavement and sacrifice. As punishment, Zeus places Ulysses’ crew in suspended animation and forces him to travel the universe, where he has adventures that parallel those in the original Odyssey, though he also encounters other famous figures from mythology. In order to bring his crew back to life and return to Earth, he must find the Kingdom of Hades.





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