Another childhood read - apparently I'm still on a roll with those. This is a Dover paperback from 1969, and I've lost track of how many times I read as a child. It wasn't until this reread that I really thought about how I've never known how to pronounce any of these names - and still have no clue. Names like Pokati-Goroshek, Pilipka, Hiysi, and Altyn-Saka. Even my favorite - Basil Fet-Frumos - I'd remembered as Fret-Frumos.
I'd also never thought to look up Irina Zheleznova, who selected and translated the stories in this book. She doesn't seem to have a website (in English, that I could find that is), but if you check her name on any book site you'll find lots of material. I think there are a lot of children that have her to thank for introducing us to these fairy tales.
It's thanks to her that I know what a yurt is! But since there were no web images to look up back then I only had a sketchy idea of what they looked like. And I'm only now looking up how you play the game of knucklebones (which is mentioned in a lot of folktales around the world). But then I bet there are a lot of kids now who've never heard of the game of jacks (I was not good at it, I preferred to spin them).
The witch Baba Yaga always confused me. In some stories she's - well, not nice exactly - but you can go ask her for advice and she won't immediately try to kill you. While in other stories she will indeed immediately try to kill you. It's actually thanks to Baba Yaga that I remembered this book, come to think of it.
A few days ago I was randomly looking at things on youtube (the ol' one vid leads to another game) and found myself remembering the 1964 film Jack Frost - a Soviet film originally called Morózko. I'd seen it in the 1970s when a midwestern tv channel would schedule dubbed foreign films for their weekly Children's Theatre show. Which resulted in me watching some really bad and weird foreign children's films. For some reason I fell in love with this particular film - I'm betting it has something to do with Father Mushroom, and also that Baba Yaga's house really walks (a little) on chicken legs. Anyway, I found a youtube version of the film which is much longer than the dubbed version - probably because it has singing.
Morozko, with English Subtitles (1 hr 18 min)
You'll be able to tell from the editing that this is not an entirely professional film. But the quality and color in this print is insanely better than the one I saw as a child. I also learned thanks to the subtitles that I missed out on a lot of rhyming dialog. Because of the over-the-top characters, Baba Yaga played by a male actor, slapstick - it reminded me of the UK's panto. (Am wondering if there's the same tradition in Russian children's theater?)
If you decide to actually watch some of this - Father Mushroom first appears around 14 minutes in. Maybe someone can tell me what's up with those little bell things he's always ringing. Also speaking of fashion - because Father M's hat is stylin' - check out the embroidery on everyone's outfits. Father Frost/Jack Frost's is especially fab. I envy his coat.
How good a movie is this? Um, well, MST3K used it, which I think says it all. (I don't think it's one of their better episodes though.) So yes, cheese factor is high.