Showing posts with the label Russian

Vechera na khutore bliz Dikanki/The Night Before Christmas/Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (1961)

First, a note on the title. Or titles, more accurately. The book this is taken from is a collection of short stories that translates to "Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka," and the story in question is "The Night Before Christmas." Because of this, it's not too surprising this has been released with both titles. In fact, both appear separately in the film, itself. It's not the first adaptation of the work - I've already reviewed the 1913 version, which introduced me to the story. This version was directed by Alexander Rou, who'd go on to make  Morozko a few years later. It shows: the two movies look similar in style. I'm not complaining, mind you - I enjoyed Morozko quite a bit. The plot to this is very close to that of the 1913 adaptation, so I'll forego repeating the full synopsis. There are some shifts in how it's all presented that are worth highlighting, though. The 1913 version presented the hero, Vakula, as something of a comically

Morozko [Father Frost/Jack Frost] (1964)

Like a lot of foreign movies we look at, Morozko has a few titles it's been released under in the US. "Jack Frost" appears to be the most common - that's the name from its 1966 release and from when it appeared on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It's also sometimes called "Father Frost." I don't think either are horrible, though I'll be sticking with the Russian title, Morozko. First, it's worth noting this is more accurately described as an alternative to a Christmas film. The title character (who doesn't appear until after the halfway point) is one of many midwinter mythological figures loosely tied to Santa Claus. The movie itself is based on a folktale, though it's been expanded and made a bit more kid-friendly. The folktale is pretty simple: two stepsisters live together, with the mother spoiling her bratty biological kid and abusing the other, despite the fact she works hard and never complains. Eventually, the (step)mother makes

The Christmas Visit / The New Year Voyage (1959)

I'm not entirely sure how to label this short animated Russian holiday special from 1959. The New Year Voyage is a more accurate translation of the Russian title, but it was released in the US under the names "The Christmas Visit" and "A Christmas Tree." The version we saw was dubbed into English and explicitly set at Christmas, though the original took place on New Year's. This isn't at all surprising - it was illegal to celebrate Christmas in the Soviet Union when this was produced. Despite that, the special is filled with trappings and elements that would feel at home in American Christmas specials from the same period. The story follows a Russian boy whose father is stationed in Antarctica. It's Christmas Eve (New Year's Eve), and the child is distraught his father is going to wake to Christmas morning (New Year's Day) without a Christmas Tree (New Year's Tree). The kid grabs his decorated tree and heads outside in the hopes of