Literature: The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship

aka: The Fool Of The World And His Flying Ship

"The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship" is based on a Russian folk tale that originated from Old Peter's Russian Tales in 1916. A proclamation went out through all the land that whosoever could build a flying ship would win the hand of the Tsar's daughter. The youngest son of a simple peasant shows up to claim her, and the dumbfounded Tsar quickly has second thoughts, setting several 'impossible" tasks for 'The Fool of the World' and his remarkable friends.

The story has been translated into a children's book that was written by Arthur Ransome titled The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship in 1968 and was well known for winning the Caldecott Medal in 1969, for best illustrations.

The story has also been translated into two animated shorts which included Cosgrove Hall's Stop Motion version of the classic Russian folktale and the Rabbit Ears Productions version narrated by Robin Williams.

Read a synopsis on the Wikipedia article.


  • Big Eater: The Eater
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The titular fool
  • Hitchhiker Heroes
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The Sharpshooter, who wakes up the Runner by grazing him with a bullet from some several hundred miles away.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Each of the Tsar's impossible tasks turns out to be perfectly tailored to the supernatural powers of one of the travelers the Fool picked up on the way in.
  • Power Limiter: The Runner, who has to tie one of his legs up or he'd move so fast he'd travel to the ends of the Earth in an instant.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Let's see, there is the titular character who is known as the fool of the world and his companions which includes a man who can see across the world, a man who can eat tons of bread, a man who can run fast around the world and a man who can create an army out of wooden sticks.
  • Russian Literature
  • Superhero Speciation
  • Supernatural Aid: how the Fool gets his flying ship.

Rabbit Ears' version of "The Fool and the Flying Ship" contains the following examples:

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The Puffer is salmon pink while the Eater is light green.
  • Animal Motifs: The Fool’s companions represent several animals that match their abilities and appearances such as the Runner representing an antelope with his speed and having horns embedded in his head and the Sharpshooter is representing an eagle with his sharp sight and bird-like feet.
  • Deranged Animation: Due to its art style, courtesy of Henrik Drescher, the story could be considered this, especially since the animation moved a bit more than was often shown in other Rabbit Ears Productions stories.
  • Gag Nose: The Fool's nose is similar to Pinocchio's.
  • Happily Married: Hilariously averted as the Princess doesn’t seem to enjoy the idea about being married to the Fool.
    Oh, and as for the princess - well, maybe she got used to it."
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original Russian folktale. For instance, there was a scene in the original folktale where the Fool and the man who carries the straw have to stay in the royal bath house while the room was heated up to a high degree. This scene was cut out in the Rabbit Ears' version. Also, in the original version, there was a man who carried sticks that could turn into an army of soldiers. Instead, in the Rabbit Ears' version, there was a man who had incredible strength and used that strength to pull the land apart and bring in an army of penguins.
  • The Narrator: Robin Williams.
  • Surreal Humor: The whole joke about how a flea is sick because of his wife’s snoring and the Sharpshooter shooting at a flea’s buckled shoes to wake up the Runner are among some of the surreal humor in this story.

Alternative Title(s):

The Fool Of The World And His Flying Ship