The Snow Queen (1957)
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Like most of Anderson's stories, THE SNOW QUEEN has many dark moments, and might actually be a little frightening for the little ones, but also treats the viewer to a little bit of morality- that of the love and devotion of two childhood friends. While the actual film is great, the American-added prologue with TV Host Art Linkletter and a bunch of kids really dates the material... fast-forward and enjoy this wonderful treat for young and old.
The film was released on DVD by the company "Films by Jove" with the original Russian soundtrack and English subtitles and is available from the company's site. Four more excellent films by Lev Atamanov are included on the DVD: "Golden Antelope", the Indian fairy tale and three short animations, "Bench", "Cyclist", and "Fence" adapted from the cartoons of Herluf Bidstrup, celebrated Danish artist, famous for his comics, humorous drawings, series of graphical anecdotes, and caricatures.
I now confess that Russia's Soyuzmultfilm Studios make excellent animated shorts and films like this wonderful adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy story "The Snow Queen," which is another favorite of mine. In 1960, the film had been dubbed in English along with a live-action prologue to go with it and a top-notch voice cast like : · Sandra Dee...Gerda, · Tommy Kirk...Kay, · Louise Arthur...The Snow Queen, · June Foray...Henrietta the Court Raven/the Finnish woman, · Paul Frees...Ol' Dreamy/Mr. Corax the Raven, and... · Patricia McCormack...Angel the robber girl.
Sadly, most of the cinematic adaptations made of that story usually fail to capture the charm and inspiring qualities from its source material, keeping only the most basic aspects of the plot or changing it completely (I think that the most notorious example of this would be "Frozen", the most recent Disney production which despite being supposedly "inspired" by The Snow Queen, it actually doesn't have anything in common with that fairy tale.
Fortunately, this is not the case of this film, which shows the best qualities of the Golden Age of Russian Animation: An exquisite and flawless artwork, a charming characterization that makes this movie to be incredibly enjoyable to watch from beginning to end...But above all, it best quality is to keeps the "heart" of the original fairy tale in a way never done by any other adaptation of the same story, being for that reason my favorite audiovisual version of this timeless tale of love and friendship.
This is the kind of stuff that computers would be never able to do, disregard of all technological development from the recent years. Is easy to see why the great Hayao Miyazaki considered this an inspiration to continue working on the animated industry. Considering that it was thanks to this movie that we were lucky to have many of the masterpieces done by him makes it even better.
When the Snow Queen, a lonely and powerful fairy, kidnaps the human boy Kay, his best friend Gerda must overcome many obstacles on her journey to rescue him.
In this version that I saw it had live action footage with television icon Art Linkletter. This is the Soviet version of the Hans Christian Andersen tale. voices: Sandra Dee, Tommy Kirk lend their voices for the English version.
Since this is in public domain there is many versions of this version on DVD. Picture and sound varies!
The animation is simple, yet very effective. The backgrounds and colours are pleasing, and the characters are all drawn well. Animation-wise, what really impressed me was the animation on the Snow Queen herself, her appearance alone makes her icy and chilling. The music is just stunning, sometimes it's beautiful, sometimes it's haunting and sometimes it is melancholic.
For me, the story is one Andersen's best, and with many effective scenes and most of the crucial scenes of the story there and maintaining their impact this animated film does it justice. The script is wonderfully poetic, and the characters are engaging with Gerda determined and headstrong and the Snow Queen the best-realised being as chilling as she is in the story.
The voice work is also good. The English/American voice cast are good, with June Foray and Paul Frees being the most effective and Gerda was surprisingly emotive, but in my eyes the original is more authentic with the voice actress of the Snow Queen especially wonderful. Overall, enchanting animated adaptation, and one of the better adaptations out there too, there aren't many but this one is the most faithful in spirit. 10/10 Bethany Cox
Unfortunately, the ending dilutes the emotion of the story. (SPOILER WARNING) Once Gerda makes it to the Snow Queen's palace and finds Kay, the confrontation with the titular character is less than convincing. Gerda simply shouts, "Go away!" and the mildly agitated queen disappears, leaving the children to make their way home and live happily ever after.
Now I was not expecting a ridiculous battle for the climax, but I felt it could have been handled with more power, with Kay forced to pick between the safe but soulless domain of the Snow Queen and Gerda's love. It would have been more satisfying. Or they could have kept the original ending too. Either of these would have been better than what was chosen. I'm not the only one who feels this way either; even director Hayao Miyazaki expressed his displeasure with this film's finale in an interview.
Still, this is among the better adaptations of the fairy tale to date and classic animation fans should not miss out.
The animation is very good according to the standards of the 1950s, with beautiful backgrounds, and great human movement. The drawing of the Snow Queen is gorgeous and her drawing reminded me of the Socialist Realism paintings and sculptures with angled facial features and muscular strong bodies. Also excellent and very Japanese-style (Edo Period) is the drawing and movement of the sea waves. The image of the painting "The Great Wave of Kanagawa" by Katsushika Hokusai came immediately to my head. The film shares some visuals with Disney, and the little character that introduces the story reminded me of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio; he even has the little umbrella with him! However, to be true, Disney was doing more advanced things (both visually and re the complexity of the scripts) at the time. The classic music by Artemiy Ayvazyan is truly beautiful, and typical of long-footage animation movies at the time. The Russian dubbing is also very charming.
What fails, to me, is the way the story is told (the script) and the plainness of the characters, which can be explained by the fact that the movie is targeted to a public of small children. The only characters I found interesting and believable were the ones of the little child thief and the the witchy Snow Queen. The same can be said of the action of the movie, which is not that thrilling for adults.
The film got different awards for animation in international film festivals, Cannes and Venice included, at the time. It is also attributed to Miyazaki saying that he loved this movie and that convinced him to continue with animation in a moment when he had doubts whether to make of animation his career.
It is so charming and warm film,from the beginning.It is fairy tale but adults will enjoy in film too. It relaxes but it is not boring. Style is very different from Disney and today-films.You will really get into story and have a empathy with all caratchers.And that is something that today-films do not have.
After 10 years,I still remember music.
This really is film for kids,although there is some sharp scenes on the end,it is easy watchable and gives strong messages. 10/10
The film begins with a prologue starring Art Linkletter and a bunch of not particularly talented kids (one who is named, I kid you not, 'Dick Johnson'- -so much for making this a family-friendly film). They are all enjoying a supposedly impromptu and TOTALLY SCRIPTED Christmas morning. You wonder WHO all these kids are and WHY are they at Linkletter's home and WHERE are the parents!! It's all done in an attempt to legitimize the film which follows. In other words, back in the late 50s, Linkletter was a beloved American TV star...and if HE loved the film, it must be good...right?! Well, no. I just assume that Universal Studio paid him a gob of cash to hang out with the kids and promote a crappy Soviet cartoon.
As for this Russian film, it's well animated compared to some films of the day (by the late 50s, standards in animation were dropping world-wide). Not as good as Disney, but not bad for the day. Sure, the humans often had creepy expressions but again I make allowances for this because of the period in which it was made.
The story is about the Snow Queen from Hans Christian Andersen. It's actually a lot closer to his story than the recent Disney film "Frozen", though I doubt if many folks will really care. The story is about two adorable (?) kids who love each other--Kay (a boy) and Gerta. Unfortunately for them, Kay makes a mistake of making fun of the Snow Queen and she responds by hardening his heart and making him a total jerk towards poor Gerta. Then, the Queen steals the boy and takes him to her frozen kingdom to be her friend. As for Gerta (and this is the ONLY thing I really liked about the film), she wasn't about to stay back home and cry--she set out on a long adventure to get her beloved Kay. The path leads to many adventures (some involving nice fairy tale creatures and some involving fairy tale jerks) and eventually Gerta's persistence is rewarded. In many ways, it reminds me of the wonderful children's book "The Paper Bag Princess" but is so dull and heavy-handed that its great message is lost because the film is so charmless.
The bottom line is that I cannot see many kids enjoying this. Younger ones especially will squirm in their seats if they're made to watch this one and older ones simply will wonder why they didn't just watch something else. You should definitely consider seeing something else.
I'm always eager to watch all movies, including foreign ones. I was glad to have come by a dubbed version and I don't think I've ever even seen an animated Russian movie before. The weakest part is that it is too short and fairly anti-climatic. It still has good pacing most of the time. The strongest point is probably the animation. The Snow Queen sticks out above all as being the most beautifully animated character or thing. I really did feel bad for these little kids, especially when they were getting into fights. ***