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Legendary Russian Animator Dies At 95

Vinni Pukh (Winnie-the-Pooh) and Pyatatchok (Piglet) were among Fyodor Khitruk's most memorable creations.
Tributes have been pouring in for the legendary Russian animator Fyodor Khitruk, who has died in Moscow at the age of 95.

Director Garri Bardin said Khitruk had left behind a body of work that was "irreplaceable," RFE/RL's Russian Service reported.

"His cartoons bring great kindness, irony, and humor, and I am confident many generations to come will enjoy them and keep mentioning his name with a lot of love and kind words," Bardin said.

Citing Khitruk as a "real example for me," fellow animator Mikhail Aldashin told the "Izvestia" daily that he had always "been struck by the youth of his mind."

Aldashin claimed that on some level he had "been communicating with [Khitruk] since childhood."

He singled out Khitruk's much loved character, Boniface the adventurous lion, as the epitome of "what cinema should be."

Khitruk is perhaps best known to Western audiences as the author of the Russian "Winnie-the-Pooh."
Fyodor Khitruk (1917-2012) was involved in hundreds of animation projects in a career spanning eight decades.
Fyodor Khitruk (1917-2012) was involved in hundreds of animation projects in a career spanning eight decades.

Many animation aficionados maintain that his Vinni Pukh and Pyatatchok (Piglet) were much more imaginative and memorable creations than the ubiquitous Disney versions of A.A. Milne's characters.

Besides charming generations of Russian children with his playful cartoons, Khitruk also made animated films for adult audiences, such as "Man In The Frame," which wittily satirized the stultifying two-dimensional life of a bureaucrat.

His adult animation won a host of international prizes, including a much-coveted Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1974 for "The Island," which poignantly depicted modern man's increasing sense of isolation and alienation.

Although Khitruk only directed 15 films, he was involved in hundreds of other animation projects in a career that started way back in 1937. According to RT, he actually won more awards than the number of films he produced.

Described by President Vladimir Putin as belonging to "the constellation of great, honored Russian cultural figures," Khitruk created more than 200 cartoon characters for more than 100 films.

He also taught for many years at Moscow's ShAR studio school and was a prominent member of the International Animated Film Association.

At the age of 91, he crowned his lifelong commitment to his art by publishing an extensive two-volume book on the subject of animation.

-- Coilin O'Connor, with contributions from Merkhat Sharipzhanov

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