The meaning of the Russian cartoon “Potets”

The cartoon “Potets” is the penultimate work of the director-animator Alexander Fedulov. He released it together with screenwriter Marina Vishnevetskaya in 1992. The painting is based on the work of the same name by the Soviet poet Alexander Vvedensky, written in the second half of the 1930s. For a long time, the text remained censored, and only in 1989-1990 was it first published in the Soviet press. It is believed that this publication prompted the authors to create the cartoon.

The meaning of the cartoon “Potets”

Potets is, first of all, a cartoon for adults. This concept did not fit well with the prevailing opinion in the country that the cartoon is a work for children. “Potets” was created in a crisis, immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This affected the financing of multipliers and the quality of the final product. As a result, the picture turned out to be rather creepy, grotesque, but then, in the early 1990s, TV channels inserted it into children’s cartoon blocks. It soon became clear that Potets was not a children’s show, and it was removed from the broadcast network. The cartoon was also not intended for rental, so it was forgotten about for many years. Only in 2008, thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts (primarily Marina Vishnevetskaya), the cartoon was digitized and posted on the Internet.

The plot is based on the story of three sons who are trying to find out from a dying father what sweat is. The peculiarity of the cartoon is that the text comes to the fore here, and visual images only complement it, help to better understand the message of the author. Perhaps only one Vvedensky knows exactly what meaning is hidden in the work. However, there are several interesting versions of this. According to one of them, the cartoon reflects how children perceive the death of their father. They treat her lightly, trying to isolate themselves from her, although they understand that the death of their father is inevitable.

According to another version, the cartoon “Potets” is a metaphor for human life. The sons on the screen go their way from youth to old age, without doing anything significant or useful in this life. This is a kind of reminder that a person is mortal, and you should not waste your years on trifles – then there will be no time for really important things. This idea received an original development: according to one version, the father himself is life. Asking him questions, the sons try to find out – what is sweat?

Some also argue that the father is the embodiment of Russia, and the sons are its rulers. The picture combines the spiritual, psychological and religious, and everything that happens on the screen is an allegory for the social and economic decline of the 90s. This is a pretty weighty statement, and it has the right to life. But let’s not forget that, first of all, the authors relied on the text of the 30s, so that it is he, and not the changes in the life of Soviet citizens, that fill the picture with meaning.

One way or another, the main theme of the cartoon is the mystery of death. The plot is based on the unwillingness of the sons to recognize the mortal nature of man and the desire to find an answer to the most important question of mankind – what will happen to them after death. In the course of the story, the sons lose their temper, and by the end of the film they are already hysterically trying to find out the answer to the riddle that has been tormenting them for so long. At this moment, they realize that they are not eternal, and death will take its toll sooner or later.

“What is a potets?”

In fact, the sons never get an answer to this question. Its audience is informed by the author, who acts as a separate character. He says sweat is sweat on the forehead of a dead person. Shortly before this, a nanny appears and takes her father with her – this is how the moment of his death is described. Then we see how the three sons, who are pretty old by this point, commemorate their father.

The father was never able to explain to the children in words what sweat is, because this concept cannot be described in words. Sweat is not just dying perspiration. This is what will happen to a person when he is gone. Potets is a riddle, the answer to which the sons have been trying to find the answer to throughout the whole work. They try in vain to figure out what happens when the soul separates from the human body. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this concept is not subject to the living. The time will come when the sons will learn from their own experience what sweat is.

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