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Lesnaya pesnya. Mavka (1981)

Mavka, a water nymph, loves Lukash, a country youth. Their brief happiness ends when Lukash is forced to marry the shrewish Kilina. The Spirit of the Forest turns Lukash into a wolf as ... See full summary »


Yuri Ilyenko


Yuri Ilyenko, Lesya Ukrainka (book)


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Director: Yuri Ilyenko


Credited cast:
Lyudmila Yefimenko ... Mavka (as Lyudmila Efimenko)
Viktor Kremlyov ... Lukash
Mayya Bulgakova ... maty Lukasha
Ivan Mykolaichuk ... dyadya Lev / lesovik
Lyudmila Lobza ... Kiliana
Boris Khmelnitskiy ... Perelesnik
Viktor Demertash ... Kuts, chyortik-barchuk
Nina Shatskaya ... Vodyanaya rusalka
Svetlana Sergeyeva Svetlana Sergeyeva ... Polevaya rusalka
Filipp Ilyenko ... syn Kiliny (as Filipok Ilyenko)
Ivan Khodulin Ivan Khodulin ... syn Kiliny (as Vanya Khodulin)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
V. Basistyy V. Basistyy ... Zlyden
Vladimir Fyodorov ... Zlyden (as V. Fyodorov)
N. Manziy N. Manziy ... Zlyden (as I. Manziy)
P. Volkov P. Volkov ... Zlyden


Mavka, a water nymph, loves Lukash, a country youth. Their brief happiness ends when Lukash is forced to marry the shrewish Kilina. The Spirit of the Forest turns Lukash into a wolf as punishment for his infidelity. The strength of Mavka's love breaks the spell, but Kilina curses the nymph, transforming her into a weeping willow. This beautiful and tragic story is based on a play written in 1912 by Lesya Ukrainka, a Ukrainian poet, writer and political, civil and female activist, and includes mythological characters taken from Ukrainian folklore.

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Plot Keywords:

based on book | See All (1) »






Soviet Union



Release Date:

1981 (Soviet Union) See more »

Also Known As:

A Story of the Forest: Mavka See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dovzhenko Film Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Spiritual and Doomed
10 February 2014 | by souvikmeetszeusSee all my reviews

It seems that I have stumbled on one of Yuri Ilyenko's masterpieces at last, a beautiful and tragic adaptation of a play (written in 1912) based around folklore. Mavka, a water nymph is enticed by a young man's flute and falls in love with him, only to be betrayed as the man marries another. The forest spirit turns the man into a werewolf for his betrayal, but Mavka's devotion breaks the spell even as the man's wife curses Mavka. A fantasy from the priceless vaults of Cinema from USSR, this is a gorgeous film, and the use of color (as it was talked about a few posts back) is especially brilliant, attaining a symbolic tone through the elements of nature, like snow, fire, leaves, etc. The film is steeped in melancholy, the signature soundtrack both delirious and meditative, and the story dense with unfulfilled love. The land and the trees and the fields are shot with such subdued passion that it really transports you to a land of mystery and magic, and it is thus, even more striking how effortlessly Ilyenko merges humans and spiritual beings into an unconventional, touching and vengeful saga. It is as heartbreaking as love stories can be, and spiritually resonant too, with the long shots and the beautifully executed effects casting a divine aura on the film. In the later half the film gets darker, as love and loyalties are put to test and little escapes unscathed. The shots with Mavka in the frame scream out serenity and godly beauty, and the forest is tenderly filmed, the icy willows, the dark green water weed, the youthful shrubs, the yellow fields, the interplay of light and leaves, everything is shot with a tangible pathos. The movie is very atmospheric too, in some way echoing the intensity of the spiritual beings' consciousness. In conclusion, this is an elusive and poetic fantasy tale, drenched in mystery, music and love. Must watch!

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