Music Box with a Secret

Valery Ugarov’s Music Box With a Secret (1976)


One of the nice things about international/immigrant students is the films they call to my attention. This was recently the case with Russian émigré  Gabriella DeLamater. After I showed clips from Yellow Submarine, she thought she had seen something like it before and found Valery Ugarov’s Music Box With a Secret (1976) on YouTube. (I have embedded the version posted by the invaluable Animatsiya in English site; the film, without English subtitles can be found here.) She wrote that, “I never liked this Russian cartoon in my childhood, probably this why I didn’t like Yellow Submarine as well.” I don’t know much about the film, except it was based on Vladimir Odoevsky’s fairy tale, “Town in a Snuffbox.” Animatsiya in English notes:

The point of this cartoon is that it shows the magic of what engineers do-it’s about the love of taking things apart to find out how they work and maybe to improve them. Take away all the fancy graphics and music, and that’s the core idea of the film. There are many people who see no attraction in that at all, and they’re probably the ones who won’t like this film.

Update (December 3, 2010): Timo Linsenmaier notes that Ugarov now teaches at VGIK. He also recommends the book Nashi mulfilmywhich is “very rare,” which contains information on Ugarov and has characters from the film on the cover.

Last update: January 29, 2017.

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.

1 thought on “Music Box with a Secret”

  1. Yellow Submarine is my favorite movie and that is how I came across this awesome cartoon! And about the book, I’d really like to read it because I hope there’s some information about the cartoon in there!

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