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Literature / The Lord of the Winds

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The Lord of the Winds is a Nenets fairy tale. Several versions are recorded, but the main storyline is the same in all of them.

One day, a great snowstorm begins and doesn't seem to end, and the Nenets camps are freezing and starving. A poor but wise old man figures out that Kotura, the lord of the winds, must have sent the snowstorm with some purpose, and that purpose is probably to find a wife. Therefore, the old man sends his eldest daughter to Kotura's chum, with very particular instructions on how to get there and what to do on the way (she shouldn't stop for the first part of the road, she should be kind to the bird she will meet on her way etc.). The eldest daughter promptly forgets it all, stops on her way to clean the snow off her boots and shoos away a half-frozen bird she encounters. When she does come to Kotura's chum, she behaves rudely and impertinently and fails in every task he gives her, which results in Kotura throwing her out into the snow where she freezes to death. That pattern is repeated with the old man's second daughter.


The third one, on the other hand, follows her father's instructions to a T and then completes all the challenges issued by Kotura. He finally stops the snowstorm and asks the girl to marry him.

The fairytale provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Kotura in the original is at the very least morally ambiguous. Kotura in the 1984 Soviet stop-motion adaptation is a kindly mentor figure who in the end rewards the heroine’s camp with eternally good weather and eternally healthy deer.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The elder daughter in the stop-motion adaptation. While in the fairy tale both of the old man's elder daughters are competent enough in ordinary household chores, in the movie, she is a Spoiled Brat who does nothing but admire herself in a mirror all day long, and outright refuses to do anything Kotura asks of her (her story counterparts at least try, if half-heartedly).
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  • Adaptational Wealth: The old man and his daughters are incredibly poor. In the 1984 stop-motion adaptation, they are quite comfortably off. Justified, since, probably due to the obvious Unfortunate Implications with Kotura's marriage to the youngest of the sisters, the romance was removed in the adaptation, so instead the elder sister gets sent to appease the lord of the winds with rich gifts.
  • Affably Evil: In person, Kotura is a pleasant and calm young man, and he gives each of the girls several chances to succeed in his tasks. Most of his anger is released via his Weather Manipulation.
  • Braving the Blizzard: All three girls go to Kotura's chum by themselves – in the midst of a fierce snowstorm. The youngest one gets the worst of it, because by that time Kotura gets irritated with her sisters, and the wind grows stronger.
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  • Defrosting Ice King: Kotura reveals his softer side after meeting the brave and kind youngest girl.
  • Demoted to Extra: The freezing bird on the road is a Chekhov's Gunman who later helps the heroine find Kotura's mother. In the movie, with Kotura's family Adapted Out, it becomes a Wacky Wayside Tribe, never appearing again after the heroine helps her.
  • Endless Winter: The threat that looms before humanity if Kotura's mood doesn't change.
  • Grim Up North: The story doesn't attempt to sugarcoat the severe conditions of tundra nomadic life.
  • Impossible Task: Kotura orders each of the girls to sew new clothes for him. In less than a day. Subverted, as he knows it's impossible for a human girl to manage it, and expects them to ensure the help of Kotura's mother and sisters.
  • Laugh of Love: Kotura's behavior in the youngest girl's presence, from the first moment he sees her.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: Kotura is very tall and can control the weather, and his mother carries all four of his sisters in her ear. But otherwise, they live in the exact same conditions as ordinary Nenets people: they live in chums, they wear the same clothes, eat venison, etc.
  • Maybe Ever After: Kotura asks the girl to marry him. The end. Her reply isn't given, nor is it said what happens if, by any chance, she isn't willing.
  • Meet the In-Laws: Kotura arranges for his mother and sisters to meet his potential bride, the latter being unaware they are related to him.
  • Multiple Endings: The fate of the old man's elder daughters is different in different versions. In one, they are frozen, in another, they simply come back home after Kotura sends them away. The movie has the elder daughter turn into an old woman.
  • My Beloved Smother: In a 2000 stage adaptation performed in Salehard, Kotura’s mother fusses over her "dear little son" like crazy and constantly lectures him to the point he’s completely exasperated.
  • Never My Fault: In the version where the elder girls are spared, the eldest insists that she wasn't rejected for any fault of her own, it was her who didn't like Kotura.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: The elder girls tell Kotura they came to marry him, and he is not impressed. The youngest says she came to ask him to stop the blizzard.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Played with. The old man makes a big deal of how outraged Kotura is, but when each of the girls (even the eldest ones) actually meets Kotura, he is perfectly polite towards them and treats them to dinner.
  • The Old North Wind: Downplayed. Kotura qualifies concerning his Blow You Away and An Ice Person powers, but he is a young man who looks almost human, being merely taller than the norm.
  • Pretty in Mink: The elder daughter in the stop-motion adaptation is beautiful, elegant and wears a charming, brightly colored fur coat.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Inverted in the movie. Instead of offering Kotura one of his daughters as a bride, the old man sends him rich gifts, and Kotura behaves in an avuncular manner towards the girls rather than consider marrying either of them.
  • Riddle Me This: In one version, Kotura tests the girls' intelligence as well as their courage and generosity. He asks each of them to help his assistants – feed the first of them, mend the second's clothing and strengthen the third. The youngest girl figures out he means feeding his dog, mending his fishing net and sharpening his axe.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: The youngest girl is kind, gentle and perfect with household duties, but she won't hesitate to go on a dangerous task through a snowstorm and face the Lord of the Winds without flinching if necessary. Kotura admits how he admires her courage.
  • Snow Means Cold: Kotura sends both lots of snow and a frost.
  • Viler New Villain: The 2000 stage adaptation introduced a wicked shaman to make a contrast with the charming and likable Kotura.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Obviously, with the youngest girl of three. In one of the versions, the second youngest is also nicer than the eldest one: she is good-hearted, if a little stupid.

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