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Based on Gogol's story: It's Christmas Eve, and everyone in the village has plans. The devil and the witch Solokha are looking for ways of causing mischief. Chub the Cossack just wants some vodka. Solokha's son, Vakula the smith, wants to court Chub's charming daughter Oksana, who sets him on a quest: if Vakula will bring her the tsaritsa's shoes, Oksana will marry him. Meanwhile, the popular Solokha has a series of male visitors to contend with. When Vakula interrupts her, it sets off a chain of events that leads to a busy night for everyone. Written by
If you combine Starewicz's cinematic creativity with Gogol's literary imagination, you know that you are going to get something interesting. This filming of "Christmas Eve" is filled with manic activity, offbeat characters, and amusing developments. It was quite an ambitious undertaking for 1913, and it is also a live-action feature, rather than one of the animated gems for which Starewicz is probably better-remembered. But the material provides opportunities for both comedy and fantasy, giving Starewicz plenty to work with.
The story takes place in a small village, with a popular witch, the devil, a smith, a Cossack's daughter, and several others getting involved in a long series of escapades. In Gogol's original story, everything ties together more neatly, and it's all inter-related. This film version never quite pulls everything together (whether because it assumed familiarity with the story, or whether it just proved a little too difficult without spoken dialogue). But most of the sequences hold up well enough by themselves anyway, since they usually have enough humor to carry them off even when is not as clear how they connect with the main story.
Whether or not you are familiar with the original story, there's quite a bit to see. It's crazy stuff that's fun to watch.
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