Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Puppet Film: 'Vasilisa' - Complete with Spooky Doll & Lots of Bones

Frequent readers know we're happy to chat Baba Yaga stories any day of the year, but we don't think we've yet shared this spooky little amateur puppet film, by Justine Hanchar, which tells the story of Vasilisa the Fair, almost in entirety, and it's perfect for the 'Halloween' season.

It's a little dark on the lighting side of things, and an older film so expect it to be a little murky in places and somewhat grainy but it adds to the spookiness if you're watching it as a story.

Puppet films tend to be endearing but, to give you a heads-up, we got Little Otik vibes from Vasilisa's doll, which, interestingly, made that little magical creature a perfect match to foil the cannibalistic tendencies of Baba Yaga.

While it's still a family-friendly little film, it's definitely spooky and you may wish to preview it specifically for when Vasilisa gives her mother's doll food; the doll feeding is... unforgettable.

We especially like that the end of the tale includes the vengeance of the flaming skull on the step-family and Vasilisa burying the skull before it can cause more damage!

Note: The horsemen, who are three of the many servants of Baba Yaga, appear in this film in the wrong order. After walking all night the first horseman Vailisa sees in the story is the white, not the red. The white horseman signifies the liminal pre-dawn ("My Bright Dawn"), the red represents day or sunrise or midday* ("My Red Sun") and the black, the descent of night ("My Dark Midnight"). The fact that there are two horsemen that ride so closely together is interesting. The grey between night and daybreak (the twilight before daytime) is important enough a time to have its own servant/horseman.

Enjoy! (And Happy Halloweek!)
One word of caution: we did attempt to find out more about the creator and animator but she appears to have only made this one film, and there are suspicious links and weird dead-ends in searching for further information. It's a pity. A lot of thought and effort went into making this film and we'd love to see more work using fairy and folktales by her (and her family, who appeared to have jumped in to help her in many aspects, according to the credits).

* Depending on which source you use.

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