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Western Animation / The Fool and the Flying Ship

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The Fool and the Flying Ship is the first entry in Rabbit Ears Productions "We All Have Tales" series and is narrated by Robin Williams along with music by the Klezmer Conservatory Band and artwork by Henrik Drescher and it was made in 1991.

It is based off Russian folktale "The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship" that was collected in Arthur Ransome's Old Peter's Russian Tales in 1916.

The story starts off with the Tsar of all of Russia issuing a proclamation throughout the land that whoever builds him a flying ship will win the hand of his daughter, the princess. The youngest son of a peasant family, who was known as "The Fool," decided to try his luck to build a flying ship and once he obtains a flying ship, he meets several strange men along the way who each possess a unique ability such as a man who can run really fast and a man who can eat food twice his size.


Once the Fool and his companions reach the Tsar's palace, the Tsar is not pleased at the idea that a peasant would claim his daughter's hand in marriage and so, he decides to set up several impossible tasks for the Fool and his friends to complete before the Fool marries the Princess.

This story can be found on both DVD and book format on its Rabbit Ears Page.

Rabbit Ears' version of "The Fool and the Flying Ship" contains the following examples:

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The Puffer is salmon pink while the Eater is light green.
  • Animal Motifs: The Fool's companions represent several animals that match their abilities and appearances such as the Runner representing an antelope with his speed and having horns embedded in his head and the Sharpshooter is representing an eagle with his sharp sight and bird-like feet.
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  • Big Eater: The Eater as he was able to eat over 1,000 loaves of bread in a few seconds.
  • Black Comedy:
    Sharpshooter: Well, you see, there's an ant in Ethiopia with a terrible cough. I should like to put him out of his misery.
    The Fool: But his wife's loud snoring is keeping him ill.
    Sharpshooter: Yes of course, she's the one I'm aiming for!
  • Canon Foreigner: The Puffer as he was never featured in the original Russian folktale and he was presumably meant to take over the role of the man carrying the load of sticks.
  • Denser and Wackier: The tone of this version is much wackier and funnier than the original folktale. The original folktale had some funny moments, but it also had many dramatic moments, such as the Fool trying to find an army for the Tsar. Meanwhile, this version had wackier moments such as trying to shoot at a flea's shoe buckle to wake up the runner and bringing penguins from the North Pole.
  • Deranged Animation: Due to its art style, courtesy of Henrik Drescher, the story could be considered this, especially since the animation moved a bit more than was often shown in other Rabbit Ears Productions stories.
  • Gag Nose: The Fool's nose is similar to Pinocchio's.
  • Happily Married: Hilariously averted as the Princess doesn't seem to enjoy the idea about being married to the Fool.
    "Oh, and as for the princess - well, maybe she got used to it."
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original Russian folktale. For instance, there was a scene in the original folktale where the Fool and the man who carries the straw have to stay in the royal bath house while the room was heated up to a high degree. This scene was cut out in the Rabbit Ears' version. Also, in the original version, there was a man who carried sticks that could turn into an army of soldiers. Instead, in the Rabbit Ears' version, there was a man who had incredible strength and used that strength to pull the land apart and bring in an army of penguins.
  • Limited Animation: As with most Rabbit Ears Productions stories, the animation is done in iconography.
  • The Narrator: Robin Williams.
  • Out of Focus: The Eater suddenly disappeared towards the ending of the story.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Subverted case with the Fool's brothers. In the original story, they were never heard from again, so we never found out what happened to them. In this version, the brothers are found at the end of the story being carried away by a whale and we don't know what happened to them afterwards since the story ends right there.
  • Surreal Humor: The whole joke about how a flea is sick because of his wife's snoring and the Sharpshooter shooting at a flea's buckled shoes to wake up the Runner are among some of the surreal humor in this story.