China in Flames (Китай в огне, 1925) by Nikolay Hodatayev, Zenon Komissarenko, N. Maksimov and Yuriy Merkulov

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China in Flames
China on Fire
Китай в огне
Kitay v ognye (ru)
Èína v ohni (cs)

Year 1925
Director(s) Hodatayev Nikolay
Komissarenko Zenon
Maksimov N.
Merkulov Yuriy
Studio(s) Goskinotekhnikum
Language(s) Russian
Genre(s) History
Animation Type(s)  Cutout
Length 00:31:54
Wordiness 3.93 profile Ru, En
278 visitors

Kitay v
Date: June 02 2021 11:59:06
Language: Czech
Quality: unknown
Upload notes: 672 characters long (view)
Creator(s): wero1000

Kitay v
Date: February 19 2022 05:15:05
Language: English
Quality: good
Upload notes: 396 characters long (view)
Creator(s): FBJ, Niffiwan, wero1000

Kitay v
Date: February 21 2022 03:11:06
Language: English
Quality: good
Upload notes: 725 characters long (view)
Creator(s): FBJ, Niffiwan, wero1000

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A portrayal of China's struggle against Western imperialism in the early 20th century, and a call for support.

Made on commission for the Soviet political group "Hands Off China", founded in September 1924. China was, at the time, in the middle of a national liberation struggle led by Sun Yat-Sen, of which the Soviet government and public were supportive. Two years later, with Sun Yat-Sen's death, a civil war would break out between two parties which both claimed to represent his legacy, the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese National Party, with the latter eventually fleeing to Taiwan in 1949, where it continued to rule.

This film was the first project for many who would later become big names in Soviet animation, including Ivan Ivanov-Vano, the Brumberg sisters, Olga Hodatayeva and Vladimir Suteyev. Of the main project leaders, however, it seems that none of them continued working in animation past the mid-1930s - at that time, the production of animation was centralized and the cutout animation technique that they pioneered in this film was abandoned by policy of the state (due to the influence of Disney), to re-appear once again only in the 1960s.

At over 1000 meters of film, "China in Flames" was one of the longest animated productions in the world up to that point. It originally ran for "over 50 minutes" (according to Sergey Kapkov in the book Энциклопедия отечественной мультипликации / Moscow. Algoritm, 2006, p.14), because they used a lower frame rate than became standard later. The above videos are both considerably shorter (at about 32 minutes), due to using a faster frame rate of 24 or 25 fps (32min/50min * 25fps = 16, so the original projection speed must've been ~16fps).

The only official public release of the film since the 1920s has been with hard-coded English subtitles and an added soundtrack (not what would have accompanied it originally, yet quite appropriate) - that's the second video above. It also has a continuity issue: a title-card at 10:16 has been inexplicably moved to 4:50. The first video above is a fan restoration that removes the hard-coded English subs and corrects the continuity issue.



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