This Russian film was directed by Aleksandr Rou. And like all fairy tales, it has a moral. And, like many Russian films, that moral tends toward glorifying the State. And that’s okay. I don’t mind. I liked this film a lot. I loved the colors and the characters with their backwards names, like “Dneirf,” which was translated in the subtitles as “Friend.” Or “Lesaew,” which was translated in the subtitles as “Weasel.” Clever.
The moral for children is to not only obey your elders, but to also be able to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. This is what gets Olya into trouble with Grandma, and ultimately she takes a trip into the Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors (where she meets her “crooked mirror image twin, Yalo,” and they have adventures to save Dneirf) , only to come out of that crazy, crooked world where people are manifestations of animals, understanding that she must watch her behavior.
The moral for adults is summed up nicely in the end when Olya, Yalo, and Dneirf sing a song praising the flag, after Olya and Yalo save Dneirf through a series of very treacherous adventures.
The sets and backdrops were fabulous. As I’ve said on this blog before, I really like the obvious fakeness of older films, and this one does not disappoint in that respect. The acting was great, with a few standout characters: the Parrot King and Minister Toad. The Parrot King really did the parrot sounds and movements remarkably well, not to mention his costuming and hair. And the Minister Toad character was very funny at the end as he was running up a hill and making frog-swimming motions, as if he were swimming through the air to get up the hill. And Minister Toad was the most colorful of the characters; also the most scary looking! I think the acting was very well put together overall.
What I notice, upon researching the names again is that there appears to be a difference between the subtitles from the version I watched and the names listed online. And I don’t know Russian so I’m doing my best to describe the characters and associate with them the names I remember. For instance, “Dneirf” in the film’s subtitles is called “Gurd/Drug” on Wikipedia, and probably in the original Russian in the film. There are other differences with other characters too, obviously. But, I’m not writing a dissertation about the film, only a brief entry here.
These Russian fairy tales are fun to watch. I’ve written about another one on this blog, Old Khottabych (1956). Good stuff! Ready for more!