There Once Was a Dog (Жив-був пес in Ukrainian; Жил-был пёс in Russian) is a Ukrainian/Russian short animated film from the Soviet era. It was created in 1982 and spans about 10 minutes. The original version had dialogue in Russian and songs in Ukrainian; in 2012 the film was given a Ukrainian-language voiceover.
The story is based on the Ukrainian folk tale “Sirko” (“Сірко”). It takes place in a hutor (хутір, in Ukrainian), a traditional small Ukrainian village, where an old dog is working as a guard dog. After he fails to raise the alarm and wake up his owners when they are being robbed, his owners finally lose their patience and throw him out of the village. He runs away to the forest and meets his old enemy, the Wolf, who helps him get back in his owners’ good graces: he “kidnaps” the owners’ young child, allowing the Dog to stage a daring rescue. The plot thickens when the Dog tries to repay the Wolf for his help.
The film was created by Eduard Nazarov (Эдуард Назаров), a People’s Artist of the Russian Federation and a popular Soviet and Russian animation artist. Nazarov is most famous for the wonderful Russian Winnie-the-Pooh, and he also worked on many episodes in the Mountain of Gems series, a set of short films retelling Slavic fairy tales.
The two voice actors in the film, Georgiy Burkov (Георгий Бурков, the Dog) and Armen Dzhigarkhanyan (Армен Джигарханян, the Wolf), are both also well-known figures, with a number of state awards each. Burkov had small roles in Soviet blockbusters The Irony of Fate and Office Romance, among many other films; Dzhigarkhanyan is famous for his extremely extensive stage and radio work.
Director: Eduard Nazarov (Эдуард Назаров)
Voice actors: Georgiy Burkov (Георгий Бурков), Armen Dzhigarkhanyan (Армен Джигарханян)
Production studio: Soyuzmultfilm (Союзмультфильм)
The film in Russian: