pop culture

Vinni Pukh

Inspired by the stories by A. A. Milne about a teddy bear and his friends is an animated series firmly sewed into our childhoods; this is the story of Vinni Pukh. The story begins in 1926 in the United Kingdom, Milne has just published his most famous story. The story is about the toys of his son, sand the protagonist, Winne-the-Pooh.

The toys of Christopher robin Milne
The toys of Christopher robin Milne Source: Spictacular via Wikimedia
US vs USSR

The two Winnie-the-Pooh stories were quite popular over the next few decades. Vinni Pukh’s story doesn’t take flight until the midst of the US vs USSR space race. The Russians and Americans were competing at every level of their political ideologies. They competed in the space travel, food security, the cold war; they didn’t expect to compete on a film adaptation of a children’s book from England.

Director Fyodor Khitruk and writer Boris Zakhoder studied and translated the original of A. A. Milne. Spiced with the unique tastes of the young Russian audience, the story kept true to the original. The film was released in November 1969. Alas, the Americans beat them to the punch but three years. As popular as Winnie is to the west, Vinni Pukh is iconic to Russian nostalgia in his own right.

Vinni and Winnie are both filmed as storybook pages with moving characters. Vinni Pukh proudly uses brasher, starker colours that don’t stay within the lines, while the American version opted for nicer pastel colours. The colours match Vinni’s noticeably harsher voice which works much better with his comedic cunningness than softly spoken Winnie.

Vinni Pukh statue
Vinni Pukh statue at Park Dinamo, Khabarovsk

The most noticeable difference story-wise no Christopher Robin! They thought her was too superior to the toys. All characters should have equal social status in Vinni Pukh (when you think about it, that was so Russia back then). Pyatachok (Piglet) played a much bigger part in Christopher Robin’s place. Vinni is enough of a rascal without his irresponsible friend, so there was no need for Tigger. Tigger would have been a bad influence on impressionable children.

Experience Vinni Pukh

If you can correctly reference Vinni Pukh, you will find a friend in any Russian you meet. You can familiarise yourself by watching the trilogy on YouTube. The best way to experience the eastern-bloc-cult-classic is to take a selfie with your favourite characters. I took these photos at Park Dinamo in Khabarovsk, in Russia’s Far East. There is also a collection of these fantastic statues at Ramenskoe, a bit closer to Moscow.

Selfies with Vinni Pukh, Ia and Sova
Selfies with Vinni Pukh, Ia and Sova at Park Dinamo, Khabarovsk

Once you get passed the initial shock of the illustration and super traditional folk music, it’s a very entertaining cartoon. The character dynamic between Vinni and Pyatachok is prefect; comedic timing and fourth-wall breaking are ahead of its time; and even if you don’t know Russian, the songs are super catchy. Tram-param-param-param-param-pam-pa! Poom-poorom-pooroom-poorom-poom-tram-pa-pa!

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References:

15 Reasons Why The Russian Adaptation Of “Winnie The Pooh” Is Undeniably Better Than The American Version

Pooh vs. Pukh, a character analysis

 

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