Jack Frost (1965)

aka Morozko
Article 3908 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-16-2012
Posting Date: 4-26-2012
Directed by Aleksandr Rou
Featuring Aleksandr Khvylya, Natalya Sedykh, Eduard Izotov
Country: Soviet Union
What it is: Fairy tale

A young man meets and falls in love with a young woman, but the path of true love does not run smooth. The young man is given the head of a bear by a mushroom, and must learn humility to return to normal, while the girl is tormented by an evil stepmother and then abandoned in a forest in the middle of winter. Can the two lovers find happiness?

This is one bizarre fairy tale. The plot involves a magic mushroom man, a grandfatherly personification of winter, a witch that lives in a hut with chicken legs, a gang of bandits, a pig that turns into a sled, and ambulatory trees, to start with. It’s all thrown together with a manic energy that leaves your head swimming. The music is equally bizarre, but I can actually say it didn’t annoy me, and I think leaving the lyrics in some of the songs in Russian rather than translating them into English was a good idea. As a result of the movie’s strangeness (and also because the movie was featured on MST3K), the movie is often dismissed in this country as merely bad, but I prefer to not look at it that way. I myself get the feeling that the movie is steeped in fairy tales of another culture; for one thing, I DO recognize the character of Baba Yaga, who I recognized as a common folklore character in certain cultures. In the end, there’s an air of authenticity to this movie that makes it an interesting watch, and I suspect that it relies on archetypes from another culture that can’t be easily translated.

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