Friday, April 2, 2010

Wow, A Talking Fish!

Here's an animated tale I've been saving for a while with the intent of using around April 1st, particularly because a good heart wins over a conniving riddler. It's a version of "The Fisherman and His Wife" (the best known version was recorded by the Grimm brothers but apparently this version was penned by one of Armenia's greatest poets and writers, Tumanyan) and in addition to the question of wishes it includes a whole set of riddles asked by a shape-shifting wizard.
Shape-shifting in various forms appears often in fairy tales and myth as most people know but the idea of people/beings changing shape/form multiple times pops up regularly too. It appears linked to either desires or demons (or what people are most afraid of) - sometimes both. It's a trope I'm seeing used a lot in urban fantasy recently too, which is no coincidence, seeing as (good*) urban fantasy is in many ways a contemporary form of fairy tales (more on that subject soon).
The shape-shifting is ideal subject matter for animation and the director, R. Saakyants (sadly no longer with us), obviously had a lot of fun. The short film is in Russian with English subtitles and easy to follow and while the similarities to the well known fairy tale are obvious this story has a different emphasis.


Note: The video was originally found HERE.
* By 'good' I mean mythic and resonant as well as well written. There are a lot of well written and fun urban fantasy novels that are highly entertaining and perfectly good books but the ones that stay with you tend to have mythic or fairy tale roots - even if they're well hidden. The "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series is a good example (though creator Joss Whedon freely acknowledges fairy tales and myth as important in the creation of his stories).
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