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A variety of European folk tales are retold in nine new stories. A soldier captures Death in a magic sack. A fearless young man sets out to learn to shudder. A boy with a destiny that frightens a tyrant is sent on an impossible task that will see him wed the princess, or dead. A storyteller must spin tales to stay alive. A woman bears a hedgehog-child who grows up to live alone in a castle until he does a king a favor and gets the princess's hand in return. A princess must keep silent while she works to free her brothers from an evil spell. A princess runs away from wedding her father and disguises herself as an ugly forest creature. A young boy must overcome a heartless giant. A princess searches the earth for her stolen bridegroom. Written by
The number "3" features in every episode of the series:
The Soldier and Death - The Soldier helps 3 beggars and is rewarded each time. He also captures 3 geese the first time he uses the magic sack and later has of a family of 3 (wife, son, and Soldier).
Fearnot - Fearnot comes from a family of 3 (father, brother and Fearnot) and was tricked by 3 bullies early in the story. It takes 3 encounters before he finally learns how to shudder (encountering the swamp creature, the half-demon in the castle, and the thought of losing his sweetheart).
The Luck Child - Lucky survives 3 attempts on his life by the wicked King (thrown over a cliff, sent to the castle with a letter instructing the queen to kill him, and being sent to the Griffin's lair).
A Story Short - The Storyteller loses to the Beggar 3 times while playing dice. He loses his money, his wife and his own self.
Hans My Hedgehog - The Princess, after marrying the Grovelhog, learns he sheds his quills each night and she has to keep it a secret for 3 nights in order to break the curse. When she fails and he runs away, she searches the world and wears out 3 pairs of iron shoes in the process.
The Three Ravens - After the Princess's 3 brothers are transformed into ravens, she has to keep silent for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days to break the curse. She also gives birth to 3 sons after marrying the Prince, and speaks 3 minutes before noon (happening to call out 3 times) on the appointed day.
Sapsorrow - Youngest of 3 daughters, Sapsorrow commissions the making of 3 dresses to stall the arranged marriage with her father. She then wears those 3 dresses on 3 different nights to woo the Prince.
The Heartless Giant - Youngest of 3 princes, Leo tries to find the Heartless Giant that he released. On the way, he helps 3 animals (bird, fish and wolf) who later aid him. When Leo tries to find where the Giant's heart is hidden, he finds out on the third try.
The True Bride - Anja completes 3 tasks given to her by the troll (with the help of the Thought Lion). The Lion also gives her 3 walnuts with gifts hidden inside to barter with the Trollop.
When people told themselves their past with stories, explained their present with stories, foretold the future with stories, the best place by the fire was kept for... The Storyteller.
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I remember watching this show as a kid. It made quite an impression on me, to be honest I was absolutely spellbound.
Quite recently I obtained a DVD-release and was somewhat amazed: It was just as good as I remembered it! This is not simply a bad case of nostalgia, this show is definitely something above the ordinary. We might have struck gold here..
The show is in nine stand alone episodes based on nine old folktales. (Mostly Russian or German) Not so "kidified" as most recent versions, just a little bit cruel, but always with a happy ending (with 2 exceptions)
The special effects (especially the creature effects ) still look really good even in this time of photo-realistic computer animation. If you take into account that this is a TV-production from 1987 the effects are absolutely outstanding! They give a much more living impression than many computer generated creatures I have seen of late.
The actor performances are maybe not always of academy award winning standard.. but I can live with that, and most probably so can you. Not all nine episodes are masterpieces either, but some come very close to being just that. "The Soldier and Death" is in my opinion one of the best and appears to be the first choice of most other reviewers. "Sapsorrow" (their version of Cinderella) is also worth mentioning. Maybe not for it's greatness but for the most enjoyable Disney reference. Very amusing.
When this was aired it had the added title: "Stories for grown up children" and that is a good description of what this is. Maybe not for the very youngest but perfect for anyone else. Especially anyone interested in folktales or anything fantasy-like.
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