Волк и семеро козлят (The Wolf and Seven Baby Goats) is a children’s cartoon released in the Soviet Union in 1957. It was produced by the Soyuzmul’tfil’m animation studio under the direction of Pyotor Nosov. The production included work from various voice actors, including Julia Yulskaya as the baby goats, George Vtilsin as the woodpecker, Leonid Pirogov as the bear, and additional contributions  by Rostislav Platt and Gary Bardin.

The ten-minute family short begins with a group of goats living in a forest. A mother goat tends to her seven young goat children, to whom she has taught a song she sings when she comes home. The children recognize the song and let their mother enter their cottage.

A wolf – the classic villain of children’s woodland stories – who is on a mission to obtain his supper, observes this phenomenon and attempts to break into the goats’ home. The wolf’s first attempt is unsuccessful, but he enlists the assistance of the forest’s local blacksmith (who are often given extraordinary powers in Russian folktales) with a device that changes the tone of the wolf’s voice. He sings the mother goat’s song in a higher pitch and fools the baby goats, and eventually captures the children in a sack and takes them away.

In a symbolic unification of the community, the forest animals who witnessed the capture of the baby goats come together, along with the mother goat, to free the children from the clutches of the intruding wolf. By freeing the goats from the sack and replacing them with bricks, they dupe the wolf and save the children. The wolf escapes from the vengeful forest animals with his sack of bricks and falls into the river, his plans thwarted. The cartoon ends with a traditional Russian dance as the baby goats rejoice with their mother and the bear who helped them. Peace has been restored.

Волк и семеро козлят depicts Soviet family and community values through the predicament in which its protagonists find themselves. This is evident from the way the forest community  immediately offers help to the mother goat and the way the whole community comes together to vanquish the enemy who threatens to divide the family. Furthermore, given the fact that the cartoon was produced during the Cold War, one cannot help but notice motifs associated with the US and the Soviet Union. The wolf’s greed in kidnapping the children for his personal benefit can be interpreted as a representation of the selfish capitalism that was criticized in the Soviet Union. The wolf’s actions could also represent American interference in the East, as the wolf barged in and seized the goats, much as the U.S. was constantly pushing eastwards during the Cold War with military bases and containment policy alliances. On the other hand, the mother goat and forest community’s desire to protect their own might be taken to represent the Soviet republics and their unity in ridding their world of an intruder. They are able to do this thanks to the Communist values of community and equality among different races (or, in this case, different species) that was promoted by the Soviet Union. Finally, the forest community’s triumph over the thief in the cartoon symbolizes the Soviet hope for victory in the never-ending Cold War conflict.

The classic Brothers Grimm fairytale was thus adapted by Soviet producers in a successful cartoon by the prominent Союзмультфильм studio.

The cartoon has received many positive comments on Youtube, with people praising it as “the golden story of our childhood” and “overall, a classic Russian cartoon,” among many other similar comments. I think that the cartoon is educational for young children, as it teaches them the value of  facing one’s fears and the importance of forging strong bonds with family and community. A contemporary U.S. audience may find the cartoon to be old-fashioned in its lack of dialogue, and in its lack of interactiveness with the young audience for whom it was created. Though the Cold War influences on the cartoon may be lost on a modern American audience, the community depicted in the film may resonate with contemporary audiences.

Watch the full cartoon on YouTube here.

Lucine Poturyan is an Armenian-American student double-majoring in Government and Russian, East European, Eurasian Studies (REES) at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She is currently studying the role of cultural diplomacy in international politics through SRAS’s Cuba-Russia Connection program. Writing about Russian and East European culture helps her sharpen her multicultural communication skills and gain the background and open-mindedness that will be fundamental to her future international law career.