Riveting History Lesson

Belarusian animators are shooting a cartoon about heraldry
They still call this animation project that is being shot at the “Belarusfilm” animation studio “a secret of the studio portfolio”. The only thing that we know is that the cartoon will be about the emblems of Belarusian cities and towns.

This idea is over 30 years old, the animators say. Back in the 70s they were dreaming of making some historical cartoon, and finally history can appear on screen with the help of the art of animation.

— The funds to make the cartoon have been allotted from the presidential fund that supports culture and arts, says Igor Galinovsky, the director of the studio of animated movies. — We will of course start with the coat of arms of Minsk, the capital city, and then move to region centers. This is a very challenging task, because we have too little time and an extremely busy schedule. The first three episodes are to be ready by the end of the year.

These stories may seem sheer legends, but all of them are based on serious historic facts. The screenwriter Dmitry Yakutovich read dozens of history books and spent months in archives. The official consultant of the project is Marina Yelinskaya, the secretary of the Heraldic Council of the President of Belarus.

— I guess it is a great idea to have such a project. The animators have a very tough task, as they have just a couple of minutes to tell the audience about the things that took centuries to evolve.

Some pages of the cartoon will be presented in the form of ancient engravings, which may seem scholastic and tedious just for a moment until they fly like birds or flow away like sand. The director of the animated series, Igor Volchek, promises to use “the knowledge and experience accumulated throughout life.”

“The Story of Past Times” is a sort of history lesson, but the authors believe this lesson could be anything but boring. The animation is targeted at those who have just started studying the history of the native land.

People tend to look for their future by referring to the past, and the Belarusian project is not unique in the CIS. In Russia the world famous “Pilot” studio is now working on the “Mount of Jewels” cartoon series based on folk tales of the numerous ethnic groups that live in Russia and neighboring countries. Many people believe the Russian and Belarusian projects are very similar.

— But we are using a serious historic background instead of fairy-tales, explains Igor Volchek. — Interesting rural and urban legends have been transformed over the past decades, and we need to give the viewer as much information as possible in as little time as possible. Besides, we must make it interesting enough to promote national history and culture.

Irina Timofeyeva
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