Cheburashka!

If you talk to Russians and East Europeans of a certain generation, their faces will light up if you mention Cheburashka. The star of a children’s book and series of short films, Cheburashka is as beloved in the east as Winnie the Pooh and the Muppets are in the west. He looks a bit like Walt Kelley’s Pogo, especially when juxtaposed against his friend the crocodile Gena.

 

Cheburashka was created in 1965 by Eduard Uspensky, whose original book I’m told contains some satire on Soviet customs which slipped past the censors because it was a kid’s book. In the book version Cheburashka is some kind of magical forest animal; in the animated version it’s suggested that he’s a talking doll. In any case, he’s friendless until taken under the care of Gena.

 

There’s quite a bit of Cheburashka available on youtube and it’s very much worth looking for. Visually, the characters are delightful but it’s the music that makes these animated shorts special. For children’s entertainment, the music is surprisingly melancholy and wistful. In the clip below, Gena sings the song “Blue Wagon” which mourns the passage of time. Accompanying Gena and Cheburashka is their mischievous friend Old Lady Shapoklyak (who likes to say, “You won’t ever get famous for good deeds.”) The three of them sit atop a slow moving blue train as the countryside passes by, which provides a perfect counterpart to Gena’s pensive song.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Cheburashka!

  1. If you talk to Russians and East Europeans of a certain generation, their faces will light up if you mention Cheburashka.

    Just about every living generation, except for the real old-timers, loves that Cheburashka. And for good reason. Even this displaced desi loves him.

    I hope that the rumors of a Japanese Cheburashka movie come true.

  2. I remember in my childhood I also liked that movie about Cheburashka & Gena. I knew several songs from Gena’s repertoire and everytime I visited my neighbours they asked me to sing one of the song of Gena.😀

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