"Well, Mike - I guess this is just a Magical Land. (Beat) I hate magical lands."
This 1964 comedic Soviet fairy tale film tells the story of the young maiden Nastenka, and her suitor, Ivan. Nastenka is a sweet, innocent girl who's tormented by both her evil stepmother and her spoiled, ugly stepsister, Marfushka, to the point where her father's ordered to dump her out in the woods. The vain and foolhardy Ivan insults the elderly Father Mushroom
and is turned into a bear because of his pride. Despite these and many other obstacles, including constant interference from the witch Baba Yaga, the two lovers finally reunite with the help of the titular character Morozko (a.k.a. Jack Frost or Father Frost), get married, and live happily ever after.
This film gained a cult following among Czechoslovak TV viewers
(to the point that it's a staple of Christmas broadcasting in the Czech Republic and Slovakia to this day), as well as among fans of vintage foreign fantasy films. In 1966 it was released in the United States as Jack Frost
. This version got riffed by the crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000
during the '90s.
In 2011, the film received a remake as a musical-comedy that featured such reimagining as the scene where Ivan revives Nastenka featuring a parody of "I Will Survive." It must be seen to be believed.Not to be confused
with the film about a killer snowman
, or the other film about a friendly snowman
For the Mystery Science Theater 3000
version, please go to the episode recap page
Provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: So... Nastenka is favored over Marfushka by a suitor. This causes the Wicked Stepmother to banish Nastenka. However, what happened to the suitor and his mother? Did they suddenly lose interest in Nastenka? Obviously, Nastenka was never interested in the suitor. She loved Ivan.
- Adaptation Expansion: The original fairy tale only covered Morozko rescuing and rewarding the Nastenka character for refusing help even while freezing to death, and him later punishing her stepsister for trying to trick him.
- Aesop Enforcer: Father Mushroom blatantly plays Enforcer to Ivan by turning him into a bear.
- Affectionate Parody: While the film has serious moments, it's also an unabashed comedy that parodies typical Russian fairytale plots and stock Russian fairytale characters in a good-natured way (hence the somewhat Fantasy Kitchen Sink approach).
- Animorphism: Ivan being turned into a bear. According to the Russian Wikipedia, this is a pun on another Russian fairytale, Ivan the Bear's Son.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: To an extreme degree. Nastenka is shown to be gorgeous, gentle, Incorruptible Pure Pureness, and goes out of her way to not inconvenience anybody no matter what the consequences to herself will be. Meanwhile, her stepsister and Wicked Stepmother are portrayed as ugly, rude, abusive, and selfish.
- Bechdel Test: A Pass. The stepmother has non-male oriented conversations with both Nastenka and Marfushka.
- Brick Joke: The bandits' cudgels. Ivan tricks them and throws their weapons in the air at the beginning of the film, promising the cudgels will come down "sometime next winter." Cut to them attacking him again next winter... the cudgels come back down, and knock out all of the bandits.
- Bullying a Dragon: Marfushka meets up with the Anthropomorphic Personification of freezing to death, and immediately starts talking smack to him, even knocking him on his ass. She got off easy in the movie, only being beaten and humiliated instead of killed.
- Canine Companion: Nastenka's dog.
- Cats Are Mean: Baba Yaga's cat, who tricks Nastenka into getting herself frozen. Though Nastenka was dense enough to reach out and touch the magical ice staff that she knew froze people when the cat just walked past it, so it's hard to pin the blame on the cat.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: The cudgels thrown in the air at the beginning come back down at the most opportune time.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Jack Frost tends to leave his magic sceptre lying around - which tends to result in things being frozen to death.
- Cool Old Guy: Morozko, in more ways than one.
- Damsel in Distress: Nastenka, though she is a resourceful young lady.
- Deliberately Cute Child: Nastenka.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Do Not Push Over and Threaten Jack Frost.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Wicked Stepmother refuses to cut off Nastenka's braid at her prized daughter's insistence, with the lame excuse that she'd have nothing to pull her around with. Considering how highly long hair braids are viewed in that culture, it is akin to defacing Mona Lisa.
- Extreme Doormat: Nastenka does what she's told and never complains. She doesn't even complain when her father is about to leave her in the woods to die (In fact, she runs off on her own when her dad grows a spine and decides to turn around, so as not to cause her father trouble with her stepmother). She even denies she's cold to Father Frost, even as she's seconds away from succumbing to exposure.
- Fairy Tale: A very winter-themed Russian one, and somewhat of a parody of Russian fairytale tropes.
- Fairy Tale Kitchen Sink: See Adaptation Expansion. The movie's writers seem to be throwing in every fairy tale trope they can think of, and pulling in characters like Baba Yaga from unrelated legends.
- The Freelance Shame Squad: Trope Namer. It's sort of impressive how quickly they can mobilize out of nowhere any time Marfushka makes a fool of herself, but they all likely know how pathetic she really is compared to how much her mother embellishes her capabilities.
- Friend to All Living Things: Nastenka, and then some. When her stepmother gives her an impossible task to complete before sunrise at the beginning, she tries asking the local rooster not to crow until she's finished. The rooster passes the buck and tells her to ask the sun — and she actually manages to convince it not to rise for long enough for her to finish. She also appears to have a conversation with flowers at one point. We don't hear them speak, but Nastenka apparently can understand them.
- Henpecked Husband: Nastenka's father, until the end.
- Hoist by Her Own Petard: Once Nastenka is gone, the stepmother laments the fact that not only does she have to do all the housework now, but now she has no one to pick on for amusement.
- An Ice Person: Jack Frost, though this version visually has a lot in common with Santa Claus: cool white beard, neat coat, friendly demeanor, magic sleigh, showers you with gifts if he likes you.
- I'm a Humanitarian: As a reward to her pet pig in the English dub, Baba Yaga feeds him deviled ham. Considering Baba Yaga is traditionally a cannibal in Russian folklore, and she constant threatens to cook and presumably eat Ivan and Nastenka through this film, she probably didn't see anything wrong with it.
- Invincible Hero: Ivan, especially after he loses his pride and selfishness. Prior to that, this trope is subverted and parodied, since Ivan has a case of Small Name, Big Ego before he sobers and starts acting responsibly.
- Ironic Echo: "I won't say it, I'll be quiet." It's almost Nastenka's father catch-phrase. At the end of the film, it's her stepmother who says these words.
- Large Ham: Almost the entire cast. Although Baba Yaga tops everyone in this department.
- Laser-Guided Karma: After Father Mushroom grants Ivan a bow and arrow as a gift he tells him he should bow his head in thanks. Ivan refuses, saying "the bear may bow before you, but not Ivan." As punishment Ivan is turned into a half-bear half-man creature. In Mushroom's words "the bear will bow his head, but it's your [Ivan's] back that will bend."
- Love at First Sight: Ivan proposes to Nastenka within minutes of meeting her. Nastenka falls for him as well, though she never tells him.
- Messy Pig: Not only do we have Baba Yaga's pet pig (which gets turned into a wooden pig sleigh that Ivan has to chase... don't ask), but Marfushka, after trying to get Jack Frost to give her everything Nastenka got near the end, ends up coming home on a dinky little sled pulled by pigs.
- Nice Hat: Father Mushroom, with his boletus-like hat.
- Older Than They Look: Nastenka.
- Papa Bear: Subverted by Nastenka's father for most of the movie - he loves his daughter but he just can't stand up to his nagging wife. Amusingly enough, when he gathers the courage to do so and turns his sleigh back home, Nastenka quickly disembarks the sleigh without him noticing, just to avoid causing her father further trouble at home.
- Parental Favoritism: The stepmother definitely has favoritism toward Marfushka (who is her biological daughter) and treats her stepdaughter Nastenka like a slave.
- The Power of Love: This, apparently, is the cure for getting frozen by Jack Frost's sceptre.
- Pragmatic Villainy: The evil stepmother refuses to cut Nastenka's long braid off, but only because then she won't have anything to grab her by when she wants to discipline her. Of course, we never actually see her grab Nastenka's braid in the movie.
- Punch Clock Villain: Baba Yaga ends up all too often in this role in the film, mostly because she's rather gullible and clumsy.
- Rags to Royalty: While the original film and story avoid this, the remake makes Ivan a prince for the sake of this trope.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The mushroom-gathering bear cubs.
- Shout-Out: To Baba Yaga. She's called "the Hunchbacked Fairy" in the English dub, for reasons lost to the wit of man. It's probably just as well, considering other than the hut she seems like a generic witch and nowhere near the character's usual power level.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Ivan in the first half of the film, before he realizes that he's been acting like a smug jerkass to everyone and needs to swallow his pride in order to get along with others.
- Spared by the Adaptation: In the actual tale, Marfushka was killed and stuffed in that pig-driven sleigh. Never mess with Jack Frost. You have been warned.
A short while later, the gate to the yard creaked. The old woman went outside and saw her husband standing next to the sleigh. She rushed forward and pulled aside the sleigh's cover. To her horror, she saw the body of her daughter, frozen by an angry Morozko. She began to scream and berate her husband, but it was all in vain. Later, the old man's daughter married a neighbor, had children, and lived happily. Her father would visit his grandchildren every now and then, and remind them always to respect Old Man Winter.
- Trickster Mentor: Father Mushroom, who tries to teach Ivan more polite and thoughtful behavior, much to Ivan's amusement and chagrin.
- Too Dumb to Live: Nastenka knows that touching the ice scepter means instant death, and has seen this demonstrated. Yet when pursuing the cat across the room, she reaches out and grabs it for no discernible reason.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Lampshaded by Morozko when Nastenka tries to repeatedly convince him that she isn't really freezing to death in the snowed-in forest.
Morozko: You're a good-hearted, selfless lass. Maybe a bit too selfless!
- The Unfavourite: Poor Nastenka. Her father loves her, but her stepmother treats her like the lowest servant and she is the ruler of their household.
- When Trees Attack: Some of Baba Yaga's enchanted servants, who she sics on Ivan in order to get rid of him.
- Wicked Stepmother: Lampshaded by both Ivan ("You must have a very wicked stepmother !"), and by Nastenka ("Stepmothers are stepmothers.")
- Wicked Witch: Baba Yaga (renamed "The Hunchbacked Fairy" in the English version presumably because they thought English viewers would be unaware of the original Russian fairy tales).