Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ночь пе́ред Рождество́м, Noch pered Rozhdestvom, (Christmas Eve,)

Wladyslaw Starewicz, Moscow, 1913

Based on the story by Nikolai Gogol, Christmas Eve is one of the few live action films by Cinema’s first great stop motion animator.  It tells the story of a witch and her son, the blacksmith.  After the witch and a demon steal the moon, the drunken men of the village stumble around in the dark and four of them, one by one, end up at her place.  Beginning with the demon, she stuffs each of her visitors, one after the other, into sacks.  When her brokenhearted son comes home (the young woman he loves teasingly swears that she will only marry him if he brings her the Tsarina’s shoes) he sees the sacks (his mother is outside coupling with the fourth suitor) and thinks he will take them to the forge.  He quickly tires and dumps the heavier ones in the center of the village.  He goes to consult a sorcerer on how to catch a demon to serve him, not realizing that he already has one in that last sack on his shoulder.  When he finally catches the devil by the tail, he forces the demon to take him to Prince Potemkin, who mistakes the blacksmith for a Cossack ambassador and gives the young man the necessary shoes for his beloved.


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