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Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

Soviet puppet classic resurrected

Kyodo News

Movie director and scriptwriter Makoto Nakamura has brought back to the screen a Russian stop-motion animated series that gained international popularity during the Soviet era.

News photo
Warm and fuzzy: Movie director and scriptwriter Makoto Nakamura holds the Cheburashka character from a Russian film series he reworked during an interview last week. KYODO PHOTO

Cheburashka, the titular character, is a furry creature with similarities to a bear and a monkey, originating in a Russian children's book and later appearing in a series of films featuring animated puppets.

The four original films gained popularity in the former Soviet Union before capturing a following abroad.

"The pressure was always there because many people in Russia have repeatedly seen 'Cheburashka,' and they will be hard to please," the Saitama Prefecture native said.

After numerous discussions with Russian advisers, Nakamura, 40, tried to retain the heart-warming mood of the original while utilizing modern technology.

Shooting was conducted at a South Korean studio with experience in creating high-quality puppet animations.

The shooting process for stop-motion is incredibly time-consuming, as each frame of film is shot separately, with the puppets moved in between. The crew was able to capture only four to five seconds of footage per day.

The film began screening at theaters in Japan last weekend.

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