Follow TV Tropes


Film / Morozko

Go To

"Well, Mike - I guess this is just a Magical Land. (Beat) I hate magical lands."
Crow T. Robot, Mystery Science Theater 3000

Morozko is a 1964 Soviet Christmas film directed by Aleksandr Rou. It is referred to by different English-language sources as Frosty or Jack Frost, Father Frost, and very loosely based on the eponymous fairy tale.

This comedic fairy tale fantasy 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.

The 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 in no small part due to its Superlative Dubbing), 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. Decades later, spiritual successor RiffTrax would riff it as well.

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.

In 2000, an unofficial video game adaptation called Fairy Tale about Father Frost, Ivan and Nastya was released, based more on the movie than the original stories, right down to the "knitting socks before the rooster crows" scene.

Provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The suitor who comes to woo Marfushka but prefers Nastenka drops out of the story after his one scene. It seems the purpose of the scene was to humiliate Marfushka, not to show that Nastenka could possibly have married and moved out of her terrible situation.
  • 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.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Baba Yaga (the "Hunchback Fairy" in the English version) in most legends is a nearly godlike being with many magical servants, the ability to cast hexes on anyone she dislikes, and enough physical strength to easily defeat giants capable of moving mountains with their bare hands. Here... she's not even close. She's basically defenseless without her servants, and even they're nothing compared to what they are in legends.
  • Advertised Extra: Jack Frost doesn't show up until an hour into the film and even then he isn't in it for very long.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Played for laughs. After being a terrible braggart for much of the film, Ivan finally learns his lesson — and then proceeds to boast about how humble he is. It takes Nastenka joking about seeing a tuft of bear fur growing on his cheek to remind him he's falling back into old habits.
  • 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.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The dialogue for the English dub is a direct translation with any clunky translations left intact.
  • 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". At the end, the cudgels return to earth just in time to knock out all of the bandits menacing Ivan.
  • Broken Aesop: Ivan is turned into a half-man half-bear and has to perform a good deed to change back, but after doing numerous good deeds he remains a bear. Finally, when he's about to give up he realizes the old lady he helped earlier lost her walking stick and goes to return it to her. Before he can, though, the stick disappears and he returns to human form. We're supposed to realize his selfless intent (and the implied change of heart) broke the curse, but the moral comes across as "Intending to do a good deed is more important than actually doing it."
  • 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 film, only being beaten and humiliated instead of killed.
  • Canine Companion: Nastenka's dog.
  • Catchphrase: Nastenka's father's cowed "Okay, I won't say it." It becomes a Borrowed Catchphrase when the Evil Stepmother says it to him after he grows a spine.
  • 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 all the blame on the cat.
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats: Marfushka is rude to Father Frost, and is forced to ride back into her village on a pig-drawn sleigh. Her humiliation is played for laughs, but considering she threatened a personification of frost and freezing to death... she's lucky.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The cudgels thrown in the air at the beginning come back down at the most opportune time.
  • Chick Magnet: Young women just fall for handsome and strong Ivan instantly. There's a song about it how girls try to persuade him to pick them as their bride.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: For such a powerful being, Morozko is a bit scatterbrained. He tends to leave his magic sceptre lying around even though he knows how dangerous it is and that its touch results in things and creatures being frozen to death.
  • Cooked to Death: Baba Yaga wants to roast hero Ivan and eat him, but Ivan tricks her and shoves her into the oven instead. But he needs her magic which he hopes will help him to find his lost love Nastenka, so he lets her out at the last minute.
  • Cooking the Live Meal: Having captured hero Ivan, Baba Yaga intends to shove him into an oven to roast and eat him, but Ivan tricks her and shoves her into the oven instead.
  • Cool Old Guy: Morozko, the Father of Winter, is a powerful friend to those who earn his favor. He's also this trope in the literal sense.
  • Cross-Cast Role:
    • Baba Yaga is played by actor Georgiy Millyar, a long-time collaborator and friend of the director known for his roles as evil spirits and monsters in Soviet fantasy films; he played the witch in 4 movies, including this one, and voiced her in another.
    • Father Mushroom is played by petite 14-year-old Galina Borisova, although his gruff voice is portrayed by veteran character actor Mikhail Yanshin.note 
  • Damsel in Distress: Nastenka is a young girl who ends up in peril and has to be saved by Ivan her suitor, though she is a resourceful young lady.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Do Not Push Over and Threaten Jack Frost.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Even Japa is embarrassed by Nastenka's father's cowardice.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Wicked Stepmother will do almost anything to promote Marfushka over Nastenka, but she flat-out refuses to cut off Nastenka's long braid at her prized daughter's insistence — because then how will she grab her by the hair and pull her around?
  • 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 give her father any more trouble.) 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: The townsfolk all likely know how pathetic she really is compared to how much her mother embellishes her capabilities, but it's nevertheless quite impressive how quickly they can mobilize out of nowhere any time Marfushka makes a fool of herself.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Nastenka. When her stepmother gives her a task to complete before sunrise, 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 not to rise — and she actually manages to convince it to wait 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.
  • Guile Hero: In keeping with most stories involving Baba Yaga, Ivan's dealings with her are based around this. Once she starts using her magic she defeats him with ease, only for him to trick her and shove her into her oven instead of himself.
    Ivan: I'm sorry, Hunchback Fairy. It's just, I've never been pushed into an oven before, and this is the first I've had to sit on a shovel... would you show me how to sit on a shovel?
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Ivan for some reason spanks Baba Yaga to get her to do what he wants.
  • Henpecked Husband: Nastenka's father is constantly berated and forced to treat his daughter like dirt, until the end.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When Nastenka's father decides to defy his wife and not leave his daughter to freeze in the woods, she jumps off the sledge herself and makes a Sneaky Departure to protect him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Because the stepmother has Nastenka do all the chores, Marfushka is totally incapable of doing them herself, which quickly becomes clear to prospective suitors when they seek proof of the stepmother's claims that Marfushka is an excellent housekeeper and as such would be a perfect bride.
    • 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.
    • The bandits all get knocked out by their own cudgels.
  • Hollywood Darkness: An early scene involves Nastenka being forced by her wicked stepmother to knit outside by moonlight... except the scene is lit by a bright, orange glow that could only come from the morning sun.
  • Humble Hero: Ivan averts this completely. As a jerk he brags about how awesome he is, and he continues to brag about how good and noble he is after he becomes a Nice Guy.
  • 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 constantly 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 up 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."
    • Nastenaka is polite to Father Frost, and gets provided with a fine dress, a dowry chest full of jewels, and rides back into town on a horse-drawn sleigh. Marfushka is rude to Father Frost, and rides back into town on a pig-drawn cart with a dowry chest full of live crows.
  • Love at First Sight: Ivan proposes to Nastenka within minutes of meeting her. Nastenka falls for him as well, though she never tells him.
  • Loves Me Not: The dwarves play a version of this to determine whether their next robbery will work.
    Dwarves: (with each petal pulled) We'll beat them... we won't beat them... we'll beat them... we will be beaten...
  • 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.
  • Mushroom Men: The vain and foolhardy Ivan insults the elderly Father Mushroom and is turned into a bear because of his pride.
  • Older Than They Look: Nastenka is played by 15-year-old Natalya Sedykh and could easily pass for younger.
  • Papa Wolf: 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. When he's ordered to abandon Nastenka in the woods, he finally gathers the courage to defy her, but Nastenka quickly departs without him noticing, just to avoid causing her father further trouble at home.
  • Parental Favoritism: The stepmother favors her own daughter Marfushka 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. Ivan's true love brings Nastenka back to life.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The evil stepmother refuses to cut Nastenka's long braid off because then she won't have anything to grab her by. Of course, we never actually see her grab Nastenka's braid in the movie, so it might just be her excuse (see Even Evil Has Standards, above).
  • Proud Beauty: Ivan knows he's handsome and strong and manly. He's well aware of the fact that girls and women like him. He's very vain about it until Father Mushroom gives him a lesson in humility.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Baba Yaga is the main supernatural antagonist, even though there's no real justification for her deeds. She just does it to be evil, apparently.
  • Rags to Royalty: While the original film and story avoid this, the remake makes Ivan a prince for the sake of this trope.
  • Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling: Nastenka is forced to work as a servant by her Wicked Stepmother while her stepsister Marfa is doted upon and lavished with presents. The stepmother goes as far as to purposefully smear Nastenka's face with dirt so that she wouldn't outshine Marfa.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The mushroom-gathering bear cubs are hella cute.
  • Shout-Out: To Baba Yaga. She's called "the Hunchback Fairy" in the English dub, for reasons lost to the wit of man. It's probably just as well, considering that 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.
  • Standard Snippet: The Russian children's song "В лесу родилась елочка" ("A little fir was born in the forest") features prominently in the soundtrack, and some of Morozko's lines borrow from its lyrics.
  • 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!
  • Traumatic Haircut: Subverted. Marfushka tries to get her mother to cut off Nastenka's long braid, but she refuses.
  • Trickster Mentor: Father Mushroom, who tries to teach Ivan more polite and thoughtful behavior, much to Ivan's amusement and chagrin.
  • The Un-Favourite: 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, whom 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).