The Pilot Brothers

Pilot is a Russian animation company co-founded by Alexander Tatarsky (1950-2007) and Igor Kovalyov. They started animating with a camera they salvaged from a junkyard.  Kovalyov later worked in the U.S. at Klasky Csupo, where he co-created Aaargh!!! Real Monsters and The Rugrats Movie.

I was alerted to their very successful characters, The Pilot Brothers, by the twitter account @_ibcf_. He shared a clip of an award-winning film which, translated into English is titled The Pilot Brothers Cook Macaroni for Breakfast (1996).  After some searching, I was able to find a reasonably good digital transfer.   There are subtitled versions of it, which might clue you in a little, but they are not as enjoyable.

What cartoony fun!   There is so much to like about this film. It has many surreal touches, such as the cuckoo clock eggs that crack open into little alarm clocks that have to be chased around.  It’s has a speedy tempo, and very tight editing.  The animation is full and rendered with detail and shadows. It’s easy to see where the Klasky Csupo style came from. The music is light-hearted.  What really stood out to me is the layout.  They fill the frame with moving characters, but it doesn’t feel cramped.  You can enjoy it without understanding everything they are saying.

I have watched some Russian clowns, and this work reminded me of them. So I was not surprised when, in Wikipedia, I found this about Tatarsky:

His father Mikhail Semyonovich Tatarskiy worked in circus and wrote gags for such clowns as Oleg Popov and Yuri Nikulin who was a close family friend.

To find these shorts on YouTube, it’s most effective to use Russian (copy and paste is your friend)  Apparently, they are super popular characters. They went on to be CG animated and are currently available in downloadable games.  But, like classic American animation. the originals are the best. Enjoy some more!


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