Thursday, August 6, 2009

Other Fish In The Sea

Rusalochka(1976) Directed by Vladmir Bychkov

I couldn't imagine a more beatific opening 15 minutes for a live action adaption of "The Little Mermaid". All my hopes for a eastern European fantasia (this film was made as a collaboration between Bulgaria and USSR) came true, in bright multicolored fire-works, dreamy mermaids(whose costumes are a bit dated, but still oddly effective), lovely period costumes, and wondrous underwater photography(the merman with the violin will stay with my years). Unfortunately things dry begin to dry up once our daughter of sea, reaches dry land to get her man. The story is simple enough; girl rescues drowned sailor and falls in love with him, to become human she sells her most prized possession first her flowing green hair, and eventually her voice to an old witch.The prince has mistaken another princess as his savior, but is unmistakably drawn to our heroin. She has a sidekick in a village fool, whose simple stupid-heartedness is ultimately what saves her, sort of. In any event it ain't the prince, and it's nice to see the ugly buffoon, usually the minor comic relief, take a place of mythological importance. Still without animated talking fish pals backing her up, she can only take this so far. The elegance of the waves gives way to the tediousness of courtly life, where contests and intrigues play themselves out, to their inevitable end. Which in keeping with the early accounts and legends, sees our girl facing a tragic end. My favorite version is where she turns into sea foam when she dies, and serves as an explanation for why the sea is so frothy. It sounds about right to me anyway. It's over all a beautiful Soviet fairy tale, which should delight fans of fables, Han's Christian Anderson (one of my mother's favorite films was the 1952 Hans Christian Anderson, musical way, way, loosely inspired by his life), and fan's of Disney's "The Little Mermaid. Those interested might wanna also check out this short Russian animated version of the same story from 1968 (of which this film is a more direct remake), here: Part 1: Part 2: Part 3:'s some fun facts from Wiki ,about the slavic equivalent of the mermaid called the Rusalka: "Though in some versions of the myth, the eyes shine like green fire, others describe them with extremely pale and translucent skin, and no visible pupils...According to some legends, should the rusalka's hair dry out, she will die...Men seduced by the rusalka could die in her arms, and in some versions hearing her laugh could also cause death....Specifics pertaining to rusalka differed within regions.....Although in most tales they lived without men, in Ukraine they were often linked with water, while in Belarus they were linked with the forest and field. Where land was fertile, the maidens appeared naked and beautiful. In harsher areas of Great Russia, they appeared as "large breasted amazons" (Hubbs). And often, in the north, they were ugly and covered in hair."

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