The Brumberg Sisters: The Fairy Grandmothers of Soviet Animation

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The Jewish Brumberg sisters, known as the “grandmothers of Soviet animation,” established their own directors’ group at the newly-formed Soyuzmultfilm through which they sheltered and nurtured an underemployed artistic milieu. A case study of the personal, professional, and creative biographies of Valentina and Zinaida Brumberg reveals how they used their directors’ group as a safe haven for Moscow’s disenfranchised intellectual community after the closing of avant-garde theaters in the 1930s and 1940s.

  • 5

    Mark Vishniak, Dan’ proshlomu (New York: Izd-vo im Chekhova, 1954), 17.

  • 6

    First published as Samuel Vermel, Kratkii istoricheskii ocherk deyatelnosti moskovskogo (Moscow: n.p., 1917), accessed December 24, 2015, http://www.universalinternetlibrary.ru/book/23042/ogl.shtml. See also, Anatolii Rubinov, Takova Evreiskaia zhizn (Moscow: Vremia, 2007).

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  • 8

    See Brian Horowitz, “Partial Victory from Defeat: 1905, Jewish Liberals, and the Society for the Promotion of Enlightenment among the Jews of Russia,” in The Revolution of 1905 and Russia’s Jews: A Turning Point?, ed. Ezra Mendelsohn and Stefani Hoffman (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 117–141.

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  • 10

    Quoted in Joshua S. Walden, Sounding Authentic: The Rural Miniature in the Jewish Diaspora (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 141. For an issue on Hebrew-language poet Haim Nahman Bialik in support of the concept of Jewish culture, see A. Sobol, Evreiskaia zhizn, 14/15 (1916): 28. See also, D. Noy, “The first Thousand Folktales in the Israel Folktale Archives,” Fabula 4 (1961): 99–110.

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  • 11

    Sh. Brumberg, “Blizhayshiye zadachi,” Evreiskaia zhizn 15 (October 1915): C-5-6.

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    Z. Brumberg, “Lyubimaya rabota,” 7. The eldest Brumberg child, Aleksander Brumberg (1893–1975), followed after his father in the medical profession and the youngest, Daniel Brumberg (1903–1966), became a design engineer.

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  • 14

    Z. Brumberg, “Lyubimaya rabota,” 5. For the student file of Valentina Brumberg, see RGALI 677, op. 1, d. 1124. For the student file of Zinaida Brumberg, see RGALI f.677, op. 1, d. 123.

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  • 18

    Felix J. Oinas, “The Political Uses and Themes of Folklore in the Soviet Union,” Journal of Folklore Institute 12.2/3 (1975): 157.

  • 19

    Anna Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), 114.

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  • 22

    Miller, Folklore for Stalin, 7.

  • 24

    See, for example, Sergei Asenin, Volshebniki ekrana (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1974), 9.

  • 25

    V. Garin, “Novye raboty mul’tfil’ma,” Iskusstvo kino 5 (May 1939): 35.

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    RGALI f. 2469, op. 6, d. 14 (July 15, 1936–October 10, 1975) and the personal file of Zinaida Brumberg in RGALI f. 2469, op. 6, d. 15 (July 15, 1936–October 10, 1975). The sisters were hired under one order. For a copy of “Order No. 80/6,” see RGALI f. 2469, op. 6, d. 14. They were also fired under one order number (Order No. 520) on October 10, 1975.

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    Khrisanf Khersonskiy, “Lektsiya o mul’tiplikatseii,” Kinovedcheskie zapiski 52 (2001): 153.

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    Aleksander Ivanov, “Zadachi Sovetskoi mul’tiplikatsii,” Iskusstvo kino 1 (February 1940): 46. Khrisanf Khersonskiy, “Lektsiya o mul’tiplikatseii,” Kinovedcheskie zapiski 52 (2001): 156, n. 50. For a contemporary description of the various technologies, see S. Bugoslavskii, “Risovannyye (mul’tiplikatsionnyye) zvuk,” Mul’tiplikatsionnyi fil’m, ed. Grigorii Roshal (Moscow: Kinofotoizdat, 1936), 276–286.

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  • 32

    V. Brumberg, “Kak ozvuchivayutsya fil’mi Disneya,” Kino, June 22, 1935, 4. Compare with the English Adrean Stokes who wrote about the psychology of Silly Symphonies the same year: Adrian Stokes, Tonight the Ballet (London: Faber and Faber, 1942).

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  • 33

    V. Brumberg, “Zvukovaia mul’tiplikatsiia,” Proletarskoe kino 2 (March 1931): 63; Ivanov-Vano, Kadr za kadrom (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1984), 64–80.

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  • 34

    Z. Brumberg, “Lyubimaya rabota,” 20.

  • 39

    Interview with Leonid Shvartsman, “Legendy Soiuzmul’tfil’ma: pochemu-to nash popughai ‘stal smakhivat’ na Vladimira Il’icha,” Gazeta 123, July 12, 2004, 10.

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  • 41

    RGALI f. 2469, op. 6, d. 14 and 15.

  • 43

    Z. Brumberg, “Lyubimaya rabota,” 20.

  • 44

    Kapkov, “Legendy Soiuzmul’tfil’ma: Grymzy iz akademii pedagogicheskikh nauk govorili,” 10.

  • 45

    Z. Brumberg, “Lyubimaya rabota,” 20.

  • 46

    Kapkov, “Legendy Soiuzmul’tfil’ma, Grymzy iz akademii pedagogicheskikh nauk govorili,” 10.

  • 48

    Borodin, “V bor’be za malen’kiye mysli,” 270.

  • 49

    Z. Brumberg, “Lyubimaya rabota,” 21.

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    Compare shooting script RGALI f. 2469, op. 1, d. 513 to final script with RGALI f. 2469, op. 1, d. 661. See also the 1947 application and literary scenario by Volpin and Erdman for Fedya Zaitsev, RGALI f. 2469, op. 1, d. 512. See the modified tale in B. A. Voronov, Filmy-Skazki: Stsenarii mul’iplikatsionnykh fil’mov (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1979), 174–190.

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    Kapkov, “Legendy Soiuzmul’tfil’ma: Grymzy iz akademii pedagogicheskikh nauk govorili,” 10. Writing in 1976, Zinaida Brumberg recalled how she and her sister frequented the Meyerhold Theater “in their student days,” but apologetically softens her appreciation for Meyerholdian conventions by writing that “a lot of contemporary works are devoted to Meyerhold and his mistakes are obvious now.” Z. Brumberg, “Lyubimaya rabota,” 7.

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  • 62

    Sergei Kapkov, “Legendy Soiuzmul’tfil’ma, Grymzy iz akademii pedagogicheskikh nauk govorili,” 10; Azarkh, “Mul’tiplikatori,” part II, 159. On a contemporaneous argument that sounds suited animation more organically than speech, see, S. Bugooslavskii, “Muzyka I zvuk v mul’tiplika-tsionnom fil’me,” Mul’tiplikatsionnyi fil’m, ed. Grigorii Roshal, (Moscow: Kinofotoizdat, 1936), 259–286.

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  • 65

    Z. Brumberg, “Lyubimaya rabota,” 20–21.

  • 66

    Malyantovich, “Kak barolis kosmopolitami,” Kinovedchskie zapiski 52 (2001): 194.

  • 67

    Migunov, “Ia—Kosmopolit?,” Kinovedchskie zapiski 52 (2001): 198.

  • 68

    RGALI f. 2469, op. 6, d. 14 and 15.

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