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Animation / The Treasure Of Swamp Castle
aka: Treasure Of Swamp Castle

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Jónás with Szaffi and Szaffi

The Treasure of Swamp Castle, known as Szaffi in Hungary, is a 1985 Hungarian animated film from Pannonia Film Studio, directed by Attila Dargay (the person who also gave Hungarian audiences another beloved cartoon, Vuk the Little Fox). It is based on and has music from Johann Strauss II's operetta The Gypsy Baron, which is based on the novel of the same title written in 1885 by Mór Jókai.

It has nothing to do with the Swamp Castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


The Treasure of Swamp Castle contains examples of:

  • All That Glitters: The main Aesop of the film.
  • All There in the Script: The Governor's name is Feuerstein, but he's always referred to by his rank in the movie.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The opening narration by Szaffi's foster mother starts with the siege of Temesvár, and she stated that the imperial army was led by "Eugene the Undefeateable". This likely refers to Prince Eugene of Savoy the most succesfull commander during the war of the Holy League that drove the Ottomans from most of Hungary in the last decades of the 17th century. Temesvár however would not be permanently captured by Habsburg forces until a 100 years later.
    • Puzzola listed film reviews as one of his preferred crimes.
  • Animal Disguise: When Jónás gets thrown in the Governor's bear pit, he learns that what seems to be the bear is actually a gypsy wearing a bear skin. The gypsy, who is an old friend of Jónás, was hired to guard the pit, but didn't get any salary, so he ate the bear and started wearing its skin. He then helps Jónás escape the pit by dressing him up as the bear and pretending to take him for a walk.
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  • Animated Adaptation: Of the above mentionad Johann Strauss operetta.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Baron Loncsár is a Fat Bastard with a spoiled daughter. The Governor is not an aristocrat, but has all intentions to become one.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Governor's sidekick Puzzola gives the following list of his "preferred crimes" (at least in the original Hungarian dub):
    "Document forgery, poison brewing, money forgery, film reviews..."
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Governor has a Bear Pit, where Jónás gets thrown in.
  • Big Bad: The Governor, whose search for the castle's treasure drives the plot.
  • Broken Aesop: A mild example: the movie is quite Anvilicious on that the real treasure is not gold but love... and yet the protagonists get the gold in the end.
  • Buried Treasure: The Governor thinks there is some hidden in the castle.
  • BFG: The cannon is so big it takes dozens of men to put the ball in the barrel.
  • Coin-on-a-String Trick: The guard is a recurring victim of this trope used as bribery, though it's done without the string.
  • Con Artist: Jónás, while living with the gypsies, makes a living partly as a street performer, partly as this.
  • Cute Kitten: Szaffi the cat.
  • Don't Tell Mama: Puzzola is often worried what his mother will say if she learns about his crimes. For a good reason: she's a torturer in Bologna's dungeons.
  • Dreadful Musician: The Baron's daughter drives the flute player to tears.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: When the Governor is about to shoot Jónás and Szaffi, Puzzola reveals he's a Not-So-Harmless Villain: he knocks out the Governor by opening his high pressure valve, takes his gun and attemts to claim the treasure for himself.
  • Expy: The protagonist, Jónás looks very similar to the titular character of Lúdas Matyi, an earlier animated film of Attila Dargay. In Hungarian, they share the same voice actor too.
    • Baron Loncsár, like the antagonist in Lúdas Matyi, is also a Fat Bastard aristocrat, and the two characters also share a voice actor.
  • Fantastic Light Source: When it's getting dark, Szaffi's foster mother summons some fireflies.
  • Fat Bastard: The Baron.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Baron Loncsár is a friendly, jovial person. He also suggests to the Governor to kill Jónás in cold blood because he's not a suitable suitor to his daughter Arzéna.
  • Fed to the Beast: The Governor and Puzzola attempt to feed Jónás to a bear.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The Szaffi's foster mother, the gypsy, and, later, Szaffi herself.
  • Godiva Hair: Szaffi bathing.
  • Harmless Villain: The Governor's henchman Puzzola has multiple murder attempts fail.
  • High-Pressure Emotion: The Governor is a Literal Metaphor example—his pressure valve has to be released when he gets mad.
  • Historical Domain Character: Eugene of Savoya in the battle scene that opens the movie.
  • Hot Gypsy Woman: Subverted, as Szaffi not actually gypsy - she is a Turkish princess raised by a (probably) gypsy lady.
  • Hot Witch: The protagonist believes Szaffi is this.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: In her first scene as a grown-up, Szaffi bathes with her animal friends completely naked (covered up with some Scenery Censor and Godiva Hair). However, she puts on some clothes when she sees a man showing up.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Averted with the Baron's messenger pigeon, which fails to deliver the message due to being attacked by Szaffi the cat.
  • Karma Houdini: The Baron. While he tells the Governor to kill the boy when he fails to court his daughter, he doesn't get punished.
  • Kitsch Collection: The Baron's palace: the garden has a foutain with winged pigstatues, the palace itself is vaguely shaped like a pig, and is painted bright pink, the hall is full of pigs (live and statues both), and when Jónás arrives, the Baron is modelling with a bunch of his pigs for a painter, who's making a gigantic portrait of them.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Governor's name, Feuerstein, means "fire-stone" or "flint", matching his fiery temper.
    • Also, Arzéna's name means "arsenic".
  • Messy Pig: Subverted. The Baron (implied to have bought his nobel title after getting rich as a swine merchant) surrounds himself with a lot of pigs, who however are as clean as someonelse's dogs would be. One of them however does happily rummage through the painter's collection of colored paints.
  • Missing Mom: Jónás and Szaffi both escape with their fathers when they are children; their mothers aren't seen anywhere.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: Princess Szaffi is lost in the flood at the beginning, and adopted by gypsies.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The guard, falling victim for the Coin-on-a-String Trick, takes off all his clothes in search for the coin.
  • Named Weapons: The giant cannon in the opening siege scene is called Brunhilda.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: While clumsy, Puzzola is a lot smarter and probably a lot more mean than the Governor, as he is the one suggesting him to kill the boy. He is admittedly an "intellectual criminal" rather than a murderer. And in the end he turns against his master to claim the treasure for himself.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: The Baron's daughter. Played for laughs, since she's rather unattractive otherwise.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with Szaffi the girl and Szaffi the cat.
  • Please Shoot the Messenger: In a variant, after Jónás fails to ask out the Baron's daughter, the father sends a letter via messenger pigeon to the Governor that he should kill Jónás. Szaffi the cat, however, attacks the pigeon and takes it to Jónás, who decides to deliver the letter himself, turning it into this situation.
  • Reused Character Design: Jónás looks like an identical twin of the eponymous character of Lúdas Matyi, even sharing a voice actor (András Kern) with him.
  • Roguish Romani: Gypsies are portrayed as swindlers and thieves, but also kind-hearted people who raise both the protagonist and his love interest.
  • Scenery Censor: Szaffi bathing again, it's a long scene.
  • Take That, Critics!: In an very anachronistic gag, Puzzola mentions film reviews among his preferred crimes.
  • Torture Cellar: The Governor saved Puzzola from Bologna's dungeons. He is returned there at the end of the movie - with his mother as the torturer.
  • The Siege: The film opens with the siege of Temesvár.
  • Skinny Dipping: Szaffi's bathing scene.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": A plot point, since the protagonist thinks the black cat is Szaffi because they share the same name. Subverted in that Szaffi, the girl is named after her baby sneeze, but it happens to be the same as the name of the old lady's cat.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Puzzola is rather upset when he learns the Governor gave the castle to the protagonist instead of killing him.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: Averted. While the protagonists learn a lesson about that the real treasure is love, they get the Sultan's treasure anyway.
  • Wrong Girl First: Jónás initially wants to marry the Baron's daughter Arzéna, until he realizes his heart really belongs to Szaffi.

Alternative Title(s): Treasure Of Swamp Castle