Young and beautiful princess Vasilisa catches the eye of Evil Sorcerer Koshchei, who wants to marry her. Vasilisa laughs at his proposition, which prompts him to curse her: she is turned into a frog for three years and three days.
Some time later, an old king sets his three sons to marry, and tests their chosen brides. The king tells them to shoot arrows and find their brides where the arrows land, and the youngest prince's arrow is picked up by Vasilisa (in her frog form). The king assigns his three prospective daughters-in-law various tasks, such as spinning cloth and baking bread. In every task the princess-turned-frog far outdoes the lazy brides-to-be of the older brothers, as she can regain her human form during the night and use magic. Still, Ivan, the youngest prince, is ashamed of his froggy bride, until he realizes who she really is.
Not to be confused with The Princess and the Frog.
This short provides examples of:
- Achilles' Heel: The only way to kill Koshchei is to pierce him with a magical needle.
- Androcles' Lion: Each one of the animals that was spared or helped by Ivan ends up helping him in his quest and fight against Koschei.
- Animorphism: Koshchei turns into a giant crow to attack Ivan in the climax.
- Artistic License Biology: The falcon chick breaking apart an egg hard enough to resist rocks flung at it. Even ordinary eggs can only be broken by them from the inside.
- Baleful Polymorph: Koshchei turns Vasilisa into a frog.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: There is an English dub notorious for that (Part of a collection called "Classic Fairy Tales From Around The World"). For example, when Ivan meets Baba Yaga, the dub has him flattering her how he needs her help... the original had him complaining she asks him questions before obeying the rules of Sacred Hospitality.
- Delegation Relay: When the king orders his sons to bring him carpets made by their wives, Vasilisa is the only one who actually does any work. The other two daughters-in-law tell their nannies to do it... they pass the work down to the maids... they pass it down to the servant girls... they call an old former soldier to do it. The results are... not quite at a level befitting a royal court.
- Evil Laugh: Koshchei, in the climax, as he turns Vasilisa into a golden statue.
- Evil Old Folks: Koshchei is old, and an Evil Sorcerer.
- Evil Sorcerer: Koshchei, naturally. His whole kingdom has been petrified into gold by him and he lives by For the Evulz.
- The Good King: Ivan's father is far from being an evil ruler.
- If I Can't Have You...: As soon as Koshchei realizes there is a significant chance of Ivan killing him, he turns Vasilisa into a golden statue.
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: The three-headed Zmey Gorynich guards Koshchei's death.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Koshchei's castle collapses as soon as he is killed.
- Magic Mirror: Koshchei has a magical platter showing him whatever location he wants.
- Manly Tears: Ivan breaks into crying twice.
- Matryoshka Object: The needle that can kill Koshchei is contained in an egg, which was swallowed by a bird, which was swallowed by a rabbit, which is locked in a box.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Koshchei cannot be harmed, except by a magical needle.
- No Immortal Inertia: Koshchei is struck down while flying in the form of a giant crow. By the time he hits the ground, he's a golden skeleton.
- No One Could Survive That!: During Ivan's battle with the dragon, Koshchei says at one point "He was burned alive"! Cue a scene of the prince cutting off the dragon's heads.
- No-Sell: None of Ivan's weapons works against Koshchei. The arrows bounce off, and the sword breaks at contact.
- Obviously Evil: Koshchei is hideous and monstrous.
- One-Winged Angel: Koshchei turns into a giant crow to battle Ivan.
- Sacred Hospitality: Ivan complains out loud why Baba Yaga doesn't invite him in to eat before asking questions.
- Taken for Granite: Koshchei turns Vasilisa into a golden statue in the climax.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No one seems at all surprised that animals can talk, or that wizards and witches exist. Justified since the story is set in a fairy tale version of Russia.
- What the Hell, Hero?: