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Animation / The Goat Musician

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The musician himself

The Goat Musician (Russian: Козёл-музыкант) is a 1954 Soviet animated short directed by Boris Dyozhkin with screenplay by Sergey Mikhalkov. It was produced by Soyuzmultfilm.

The short is a satire of composers who merely compile existing tunes in favor of actual creativity. As a musician, the goat, on the advice of his donkey friend, composes a symphonic work based off of Zhil-byl u babushki serenkii kozlik (which translates to "Once grandmother had a gray goat"). The goat's concert is preceded by the gray wolf, considered to be a respected musicologist. While he appreciated the composition, the audience took to leaving their seats dismissing the music as a hack job.


Provides examples of:

  • Aside Glance: The gray wolf gives one as he walks away with the goat by his side. Not so much as a lampshade on the absurdity of the situation, so much as leading the goat to his uncertain doom.
  • The Big Bad Wolf: The gray wolf is said to be a musicologist, and he seems to be neither feared or savage. But that doesn't stop him from having any malicious intentions with the goat judging by his quick Aside Glance as they disappeared into the woods.
  • Dark Reprise: Zhil-byl u babushki serenkii kozlik which the donkey played on the piano and the goat has a "Eureka!" Moment. The tune is heard again unchanged, but during a brief moment of silence after the goat disappears with the wolf into the woods and was probably never seen again.
  • Folk Music: The goat uses a Russian folk song as the basis of his work.
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  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: All of the animals.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The melodic theme of the goat's music uses a Russian folk song which starts out innocently enough about a grandmother and her beloved grey goat but it ends with said goat being preyed on by a pack of wolves after wandering in the woods till nothing was left of it but horns and hooves. Unfortunately, the goat musician (and to an extent, the donkey who provided it) seemed to be unaware of this but the audience was understandably shocked, eventually causing them to leave their seats in disgust.
  • Money, Dear Boy: In-Universe. The donkey's main concern seemed to be whether or not he gets to be paid if the concert proved successful for providing the goat his theme.
  • Musical Spoiler: This is what prompted the audience's surprised faces, and their leaving the concert later, when they hear the melody the goat used for his theme. And at the end when the melody is played again in piano form, hinting at the goat's fate. See Ironic Nursery Tune.
  • Never Found the Body: Unlike the goat in the song in which only his horns and hooves remained, there is no trace of the goat musician whatsoever except for his composition which has been ripped to shreds. That is, if he really was eaten by the wolf.
  • No Name Given: None of the characters are named. The goat musician is simply known as is.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Again, the folk song the goat used on his symphonic work in the vein of it being traditional.
    • Georges Bizet's Carmen Suite No.1: Toreador March was briefly heard before the goat decided to return to the usual theme.
  • Stylistic Suck: The goat's music, aside from the misguided use of an ironic nursery tune as his theme, is also unnecessarily bombastic, has no clear mood/atmosphere, and a general lack of knowledge as to what the music is really all about. A snippet of Georges Bizet's Carmen Suite No.1: Toreador March, for example, managed to sneak in there for some reason.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The short starts out lighthearted and silly but ends with the goat and the donkey having a falling out after the concert's failure. Out of spite, the goat accompanies the wolf and they walk away together to the woods. Even with the heavy implication that the goat might have been devoured by the wolf, his fate is still left to the viewer's imagination.
  • Tough Room: The audience were excited at first at the announcement of the goat's concert but as the music began, they grew quickly bored. It took for the theme coming in to elicit a somewhat startled reaction. Then the audience began shuffling out of their seats. The goat is unaware of all of this due to having his back turned, conducting the orchestra, but he is surprised when he turned around to see everyone had had left but his donkey friend.
  • Uncertain Doom: It is unknown whether or not the goat musician was eaten by the gray wolf after accompanying him to the woods. Then again, the parallels between the goat musician and the goat in the folk song imply that it might be the case as lampshaded by two hedgehogs.
  • Woodland Creatures: The audience and the goat's orchestra consist mostly of these. The goat himself, his donkey friend, and the wolf musicologist are the exceptions.