ⓘ The Humpbacked Horse (1947 film)


ⓘ The Humpbacked Horse (1947 film)

The Humpbacked Horse, is a 1947 Soviet/Russian traditionally animated feature film directed by I. Ivanov-Vano and produced by the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow. The film is based on the poem by Pyotr Pavlovich Yershov, and because of this, it is spoken in rhyme.

In 1975, an English-language remake was produced by Ivanov-Vano and Soyuzmultfilm, and this version, translated by George Molko, was released in 1977 as The Magic Pony.


1. Plot

An old man has three sons: the elder two are considered fairly smart, while the youngest, Ivan, is considered a fool. One day the father sends the three to find out whos been taking the hay in their fields at night. The elder brothers decide to lie hidden in a haystack, where they promptly fall asleep. Ivan, meanwhile, sits beside a birch tree and plays on his recorder. Suddenly, he sees a magnificent horse come flying out of the sky. Ivan grabs her mane and holds on as the horse tries to shake him off. Finally, the horse begs him to let her go and in return gives him two beautiful black male horses and a little humpbacked horse Konyok-gorbunok to be his companion.

Ivan leads the two black horses to a stable and runs off with Konyok-gorbunok to fetch them buckets of water. When he comes back, he finds that his brothers have taken his horses. Konyok-gorbunok tells him that they will catch them in the city, so Ivan sits on its back and they go flying through the clouds. Along the way, Ivan finds the fiery feather of a firebird, which shines without giving off any heat, and takes it despite Konyok-gorbunok s warning that it will cause him difficulty later.

They reach the city, and Ivan outwits his brothers and sells his black horses to the Tsar. When it is found that nobody can control them except Ivan, he is put in charge of the Tsars stables. The Tsars advisor takes a disliking to Ivan, and hides himself in the stables to watch him at work so that he can think of a way to remove him from the Tsars favour. After seeing Ivan use the firebirds feather for light, he steals it from him and shows it to the Tsar, who commands Ivan to catch him a firebird or lose his post.

With Konyok-gorbunok s help, Ivan catches one and brings it back to the Tsar. The Tsars advisor tells the Tsar to make Ivan catch a beautiful Tsar-Maid, so the Tsar summons him and tells him that the consequences will be dire if he doesnt bring her within three weeks. Ivan again manages to do this.

The elderly tsar is overjoyed and begs the young maiden to marry him, but she refuses, telling him that she would only marry him if he were young and handsome, and that to become young and handsome he would need to bathe first in boiling water, then in milk and then in freezing water. The tsars advisor tells him to try this out on Ivan first, hoping at last to be rid of his nemesis. The tsar agrees, and when Ivan protests upon being told of this the tsar orders him to be thrown into prison until everything is ready the next morning. Konyok-gorbunok comes to Ivan and through the prison bars tells him not to worry - to simply whistle for him in the morning and let him put a magic spell on the water so that it will not be harmful to him. The advisor overhears this, and kidnaps Konyok-gorbunok just as he is walking away from Ivan.

In the morning, Ivan whistles for Konyok-gorbunok, who is tied in a bag. He manages to free himself eventually, and at the last moment comes to Ivans rescue and puts a spell on the three cauldrons of water. Ivan jumps into the boiling water, then the milk and then the freezing water, and emerges as a handsome young man instead of a boy. The young maiden falls in love with him and they walk away. Meanwhile, the tsar gets excited and decides that he also wants to be young and handsome. However, the spell is no longer working, so after he jumps into the boiling water he doesnt come back out.


2. Awards

Version of 1947

  • 1948 - the Honourable diploma on the III MKF in Mariana Laznyakh CSR.
  • 1950 - the Special award of jury on the IV MKF in Cannes.

Version of 1975

  • 1977 November - the Bronze medal for the best animated film on category of childrens movies on the VI MKF in Tehran.

3. Interesting facts

  • In the book "Shot Off-screen" Ivan Ivanov-Vano writes
  • In the opening credits of 1947 version Ivan Ivanov-Vano is credited as "I. Vano", but the cast and narrator are uncredited.

In film distribution, on a film studio there are letters with a request again to release "Konyok-gorbunok". But the movie negative badly remained, and to print new copies it was impossible. When these lines were written, I finished work on the new version.

  • In 1988 the USSR mail of the USSR released a series 6 pieces of stamps "Animated films". One of brands was devoted to the animated film "Konyok-Gorbunok".
  • Appreciation to the movie was given by Walt Disney, who showed it to his animators and artists.

4. 1975 version

In 1975 Ivan Ivanov-Vano made another version of the same film. The 1975 film is 70 minutes long; 15 minutes longer than the original. Although the progression of scenes and their plot content is usually the same as in the original, the animation and specific actions of the characters are different; for example, a scene may be taken from a different angle or in a different location all of the backgrounds were also newly-drawn. Sometimes a scene was drawn out, other times contracted for example, the scene where Ivan first sees the white horse is much-simplified compared to 1947.

This was done because the original film was then in a very bad shape and the technical expertise for a restoration did not exist. In 2004, with the technical expertise now existing in Russia, the original film was restored and released on DVD by Krupnyy Plan Крупный План.

The 1975 version was redubbed, recut and released in the United States as The Magic Pony in 1977, with Jim Backus as the voice of the Tsar and Johnny Whitaker as Ivan. This version of the film was first released on VHS in the early 1980s by Video Warehouse, Inc, and later again in 1984 by Vestron Video through their Childrens Video Library division. Starmaker Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment released it on VHS again in 1995.


4.1. 1975 version Voices

Additional Voices
  • Wayne Heffley
  • Robb Cigne
  • Sandra Wirth
  • Erin Moran
  • Jason Wingreen
  • Diana Alton
  • John Craig
  • Hans Conried

5. Home video

Both versions of The Humpbacked Horse have been released on home video. In the 1980s, Videoprogrammoy Goskino USSR Видеопрограммой Госкино СССР released the film in the SECAM system, and later in the 1990s in the PAL system. The 1977 edition was released on home video by film association Krupny Plan. Both were later released on VHS by Soyuzmultfilm, and also by Studio PRO Video in their collection "The Best Soviet Animated Films”.

The film has been issued on DVD from the 2000s on. The 1947 version has been restored and distributed by Krupny Plan. The 1975 version first received a DVD release in 2003, in the 5th release of" The Golden Collection of Favourite Cartoons”, and later on by Soyuzmultfilm in the animated film collection "Tale of a Fairy Tale".