Mavka: The Forest Song (2023)

Mavka: The Forest Song (2023)

A generic Ukrainian fantasy fairy tale that’s entertaining enough for kids

6.5

Movie

Ukraine
Ukrainian
Adventure, Animation, Family, Fantasy
2023
FEMALE DIRECTOR, OLEG MALAMUZH
Andrii Mostrenko, Artem Pyvovarov, Julia Sanina
99 min

TLDR

Actually, I wish they adapted The Forest Song straight up, but it’s understandable for an animator new to the scene to stick to tried and true tropes.

What it's about

Many years ago, the forest creatures and a sawmill owner waged war, leading to a guardian closing the entrance to their forest. Now, a forest nymph named Mavka must choose between love with a village musician and her guardian duties to protect the Heart of the Forest.

The take

Dropping on DVD and digital download in America at the end of summer 2023, Mavka: the Forest Song made its Hulu debut this November. Taking the plot of the 1912 poetic play and rewriting the tragic deaths into lighthearted, fantastical adventures, the film is precisely the sort of generic, child-friendly fairy tale that we’ve come to expect from Disney, albeit with a Ukrainian twist. The plot is predictable, and the humor is rife with cliche, but it’s still a fairly entertaining watch for young audiences.

What stands out

When you watch Mavka: The Forest Song, it’s honestly reminiscent of one of those early 3D animated films that marked the start of the 21st century. It actually reminds us of old animated Barbie movies, complete with the fantastical, fairytale love story, over-the-top villains, and cheesy comedy. But while the story feels generic, and the environmental and anti-capitalist themes feel overdone, the film does look unique with its character designs and score inspired by Ukrainian mythology and culture. It does lean too much on American style and story tropes, but hopefully the success of this film would encourage other animators to test and experiment different ways to portray their folklore.

Comments

I am sorry to say, we rented this movie from our local library and watched it for a few minutes to quickly eject it from viewing. Sorry, would not recommend it whether Ukrainian or otherwise despite it’s storyline or otherwise.

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