The Silencing of 'Glass Harmonica'
When a Soviet rebel met his match.
Happy Thursday! In this issue of the Animation Obsessive newsletter, we’re looking at a notorious chapter in animation history — the banning of Glass Harmonica (1968).
You might recognize the name. This unsettling, surrealist film is one of the weirder products of Soviet animation — but among the more famous. Glass Harmonica has been covered by outlets like Open Culture and even Gizmodo. Just this week, someone published an unlikely parody of it, reviving an old Simpsons meme to ingenious effect.
Glass Harmonica owes its fame chiefly to one thing: it was suppressed by the USSR. It’s known as “the only animated film ever banned by Soviet censors.” That isn’t quite accurate, but there’s truth to it. The film spent around 20 years as forbidden art, and its director Andrei Khrzhanovsky faced severe consequences.
Yet the full story of why and how the censors silenced Glass Harmonica isn’t often discussed — at least in English. That’s what we’re here to do today.
Here we go!
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Animation Obsessive to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.