Follow TV Tropes


Animation / The Twelve Months

Go To

The Twelve Months is a 1956 Soyuzmultfilm cartoon directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano based on the fairy tale of the same name. It features a spoiled teenage Queen who can barely read or write, who intimidates her advisors and tutor by threatening them with death. When her tutor tells her about the twelve months of the year, the Queen demands that spring starts with the new year. If someone can bring her snowdrops to her New Year ball, they will be paid in gold.

A greedy old woman sends her hated Stepdaughter to gather snowdrops in the forest. However, the Stepdaughter meets the personifications of the twelve months of the year who help her and give her snowdrops, but warn her that she mustn't tell anyone about it.

There are various uploads of the original cartoon on YouTube.


Tropes for this cartoon include:

  • Adorable Evil Minions: The wicked stepsister is very cute, especially compared to her more Obviously Evil and appropriately ugly mother. The difference is retained when they are turned into dogs.
  • Argument of Contradictions: The hares and squirrels argue over who is "It" in their game of tag.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Since the girl watches their game of tag with amusement, the squirrel tosses a nut at the stepsister so the girl will hear the latter folloring her.
  • Book Dumb: The queen barely knows how to spell and doesn't even care about basic arithmetic. She also refuses to think about the ramifications of her actions.
  • Bowdlerize: The English dub has the queen sentencing people to jail rather than execution. Here, her tutor protests about potentially imprisoning innocent people.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Caligula: The queen is an illiterate teenager who tosses people in jail without thought or signs for their execution because "execute" is shorter than "mercy granted" in Russian. She threatens the same to her tutor, the Only Sane Man of the film.
  • Character Exaggeration: The Queen is turned a one-dimensional Spoiled Brat, while her character in the original, even before she reforms, is much more complex, as she shows she can be shrewd and just when she cares to do so, genuinely cares for her professor underneath her brattiness, and occasionally reveals her feelings of insecurity as a fourteen-year-old absolute ruler.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: The girl is unsurprised that her stepmother and stepsister send her out in the middle of a blizzard to run another errand. She merely protests the practicalities: there is no way she can find flowers in a blinding snowstorm where you can't see two inches in front of you. When the stepmother and stepsister deliver the flowers to the palace, she waits outside, not caring about the cold.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: The queen is forced to swallow her pride and ask girl for furs and horses to ride back to the palace, after sentencing her to death. At first, the girl refuses until the soldier teaches the Queen how to ask politely.
  • Exact Words:
    • As the stepsister points out, the decree asks for a basket full of snowdrops, and a reward of one gold coin per snowdrop. The decree didn't specify the basket size. Thus, the largest basket will earn them the most gold.
    • When she asks for a dog fur coat, she gets one. That turns her into a dog.
    • Before giving dog fur coats, January says: "They'll last you a lifetime."note 
  • Foil: Noted by the elderly soldier. He says the queen is no older than the girl in the woods, and her parents have also died. She is, however, completely spoiled, unwilling to listen to or see reason. The girl in the meantime is kind and joyous, expecting nothing in return.
  • Greed: If the queen had just taken the flowers and rewarded the family who brought them, she would be satisfied and not humiliated. But no, she has to demand that the family show her where the flowers grow so she can have more of them.
  • I Gave My Word: The girl refuses to tell the queen, even on the threat of losing April's ring or her winter wrappings, or even when threatened with death, where she got the snowdrops. She has promised not to tell anyone about her acquaintance with the Months.
  • Impossible Task: Due to nature being constant, there seems to be no way to get snowdrops in winter. The girl protagonist gets some help when her stepmother forces her to search in the winter for them.
  • The Insomniac: A wolf in the middle of a blizzard sings about being one, that he thinks of being home constantly but has not found his way back. Thus, he cannot sleep since he only dreams of home.
  • Karmic Transformation: Dog fur coats turn stepmother and stepsister into dogs after they start snarling at each other. January promises to turn them back in a year, if they behave.
  • Kick the Dog: The queen, in the middle of a temper tantrum, orders the execution of a parrot that was gifted to her because it wished her Happy New Year. It faints at the bottom of its cage.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The queen tries to have her way with everything, from lessons to controlling nature. She finds out the hard way that the twelve months know who is good and who is bad and can say no to her. They save the girl from her and the guards while giving them all four seasons in succession, leading to her courtiers partly being blown away, partly escaping on the sleigh horses to save themselves. By the end, the queen has to humbly ask the girl to lend her horses for a sleigh and fur coats so she can return to the palace with the elderly soldier and the professor. The months imply that this is a second chance because she is so young; she won't be lucky next time if she tries to impose her way on the people they like.
  • Last-Second Chance: After they make her and her court go through four seasons rapidly, January offers a wish to each of the remaining retinue members. He hints that they should choose wisely, or they may get what they want and it's not a good thing. The tutor catches on and merely asks that seasons go back to being normal.
  • Maybe Ever After: April gives the girl an engagement ring, telling her she can use it to rescue her during times of need. She simply needs to remember the words and toss the ring on the ground. She looks at it fondly when in private and uses it when the queen sentences her to death. While they can't be together until April returns for real, he promises to come back to her.
  • Mundane Wish:
    • The soldier only asks for a fire by which to warm his hands.
    • The stepsister asks for warm coats, for herself and her mother. She is actually satisfied with it, until her mother starts bickering with her. The coats turn them into dogs, a mother and a puppy.
  • My God, You Are Serious!: The court reacts this way, after laughing, that the queen wants to add a thirty-second day to December and extend the New Year. Even the orchestra conductor is unsure when he hears her order. They go Mass "Oh, Crap!" when she says she wants to decree for December to last forever with 37 days minimum, and the tutor steps in to tell her it would not only be a lie, it would be foolish.
  • Nice Guy:
    • The elderly soldier sees a girl with a sled, who explains she needs to find dry firewood for her stepmother. He helps her find it and pile it on her sled. When she offers to show him the perfect Christmas tree for the princess, he says that it would be great as long as she is not too tired. Then he helps her pull her pile of firewood home before returning to the palace. When they reunite in the wood, after the queen orders her stripped of a coat and mittens, the soldier wraps a scarf around her. The girl smiles in thanks.
    • Each of the twelve months is this. April begs January to give him an hour so he can deposit snowdrops into the girl's basket. February and March instantly give up their chance to have an hour of time so that the girl can return home with the flowers and not freeze.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • The stepmother and stepsister accidentally save the three people and parrot sentenced to death by arriving with the snowdrops.
    • The queen spitefully tosses away the girl's ring when she refuses to tell her where she has seen snowdrops. This activates a part of the spell, and the girl recites the rhyme April taught her to summon help. Soon enough, the months arrive and rescue her.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • The poor tutor, who tries to advise the queen to stop her tyranny and pay attention to her lessons. She forces him to back down on the threat of being executed. Later, he bravely tells her off about wanting 37 days in one month. The seasons happening rapidly don't entrance him; he's more in Oh, Crap! mode and keeps his furs on for the heat. In the climax, he's the only one to suggest that he'd prefer it if the twelve months and seasons went back to normal.
    • During the climax, the soldier focuses on protecting the girl from the cold, knowing she must be freezing without a coat.
  • Papa Wolf: Despite the fact that she threatened to execute him multiple times, the tutor keeps the queen behind her when they see the stepmother and stepsister have turned into dogs.
  • Pet the Dog: The queen treats her cat very well, playing with it using her feather quill on a string. She actually looks guilty when accidentally spilling ink on the cat in the middle of saying there should be a new law in nature.
  • Politeness Judo: The months advise that if the queen wants to borrow the girl's new sleigh, then she should ask nicely rather than order her around.
  • Privacy by Distraction: To prevent the wolf from finding the girl in the tree, the raven tells the wolf that he sees a bonfire, which leads to the wolf instantly running away. The girl finds out to her bewilderment that the raven was telling the truth.
  • This Is Reality: The tutor tells the queen that snowdrop flowers don't bloom in winter, and that's okay. Every season is beautiful, offering various joys. She steamrolls him and asks him to write a decree promising a reward to anyone who can bring her snowdrops in the winter.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: January is a strict but good-natured leader of the twelve Months who quickly agrees when April begs to take his place for an hour to help the girl.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When the queen catches up to the girl in a sleigh, she offers fur coats and any price in exchange for knowing where the flowers grow. The girl apologetically refuses, saying she can't tell her. In response, the queen confiscates some of her wrappings and tosses away April's ring out of spite. After the months rescue her, the girl, thanks to Grew a Spine, refuses to accept payment for her new horses and furs from the queen. Justified; the queen tried to threaten her for merely keeping a promise. Asking politely does the same trick.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The girl wears modest, practical clothes for most of the movie. In the end, at her wedding, she wears a beautiful coat, with matching boots, and a veil that looks like a crown. She can't help but admire it, even as one month notes that the boots are impractical for the weather. The queen at first doesn't recognize it's the same girl.
  • So Much for Stealth: The stepsister follows the girl into the woods, as the lattertries to retrace her steps. A squirrel takes notice and tosses a nut at the stepsister; the sound alerts the girl.
  • Spoiled Brat: The queen is this because the soldier tells the girl in the woods that no one can make her see reason or say no to her. She's forced to eat Humble Pie when the twelve months come to rescue the girl from her.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: January has this expression before summoning the winter again, after the months send the girl home with the desired snowdrops. He senses this is not the end of the story and asks the three blizzard sisters to cover their tracks, and hide the site of their campfire. Suffice to say, it works.
  • Wild Goose Chase: Realizing the queen is following her, the girl runs in a different direction, far from where the campfire was. She knows the queen will stop her, but they will be too far from the campfire to find the twelve momths.
  • You Fool!: The stepmother calls her daughter this for asking for a dog-fur coat when they could have anything they wanted from January.

Alternative Title(s): Twelve Months