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Ivan Ivanov-Vano’s 1949 animation, with a style clearly developed from that of Walt Disney, is about a magpie, come back from years abroad, ready to teach all those yokel birds how to sing. Of course, she is a jazz singer. The soundtrack is a fast jazz tune of the period, with the magpie singing the trumpet parts. The local birds hate it. The less than subtle film shows the good Russian birds or people or whatever resisting the cultural imperialism of the decadent west. Given that it’s jazz though, how does this square with the Soviets theoretically taking up the African-American cause in a racist U.S? It’s almost like the Soviets weren’t serious about their cultural analysis of the United States. The other birds drive the magpie back abroad and reclaim Mother Russia for traditional song.

Although in Stalinist Russia, the ultimate sacrifice these birds could make would be to all die in order to create a Soviet industrial zone in the forests where all bird life was dead for a 50 mile radius.

6/10

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