Fox and Wolf (Лиса и волк, 1958) by Pyotr Nosov

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Fox and Wolf
The Fox and the Wolf
Лиса и волк
Lisa i volk (ru)
Liška a vlk (cs)
Líška a vlk (sk)
Cáo và Sói (vi)

Year 1958
Director(s) Nosov Pyotr
Studio(s) Soyuzmultfilm
Language(s) Russian
Genre(s) Comedy
Folklore & myth (Rus./East Slavic)
Animation Type(s)  Drawn (cel)
Length 00:10:32
Wordiness 10.85 profile Ru, En
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A fox tricks a wolf into using his tail to fish with in the winter. Based on the Russian folk tale.

Some good information about this folk tale can be found on The Russian Wikipedia. According to the Aarne–Thompson–Uther Index, it is a mixture of ATU Animal Tales 1, 2, 3 and 4.

A similar story appears in the 12th-century Ysengrimus, in which Reynard the Fox, tricks Isengrim the Wolf in a similar way.

The earliest known* Russian version comes from the collection of Afanasyev, who recorded variations of the "Fox and Wolf" tale in the mid-19th century, which can be read in their original Russian here - an English translation of one of them can be found here. The beginning of the film also uses the tale "Fox and Grouse" (read here in Russian)

*There was also an earlier folk tale starring a wolf and a fox published in Russia in the 18th century (it was republished in 2003 and can be read here), but it didn't have the wolf fishing with his tail, but instead has the fox taking the wolf's home, so is ultimately more similar to the folk tales "Fox and Hare" or "The Insolent Goat").




Other animated versions of this tale (both also quite good):
Fox and Wolf (1936) - earliest surviving Soviet colour animation - unfortunately, the last 10 minutes didn't survive
Be Caught, Fish (2005) - part of the "Mountain of Gems" series, this one has an irreverent Ukrainian flavour



The wisdom of the fox is a very familiar literary motif in Europe for thousands of years, but in Asia where the fox is hardly a common creature, the only corresponding image is the snake. In Aleksandr Nikolayevich Afanasyev's original, the fox even made the lion breaks the wolf's leg. However, that is a fable, but in my opinion, life forces us to have both the cunning of the fox and the ferocity of the wolf to survive.

Now I will tell a famous folk poem from Northern Vietnam, which probably appeared in the XIX-century :

Tò vò mà nuôi con nhện, / If a wasp were to raise a spider,
Đến khi nó lớn, nó quyện nhau đi. / When it be grown up, it would leave.
Tò vò ngồi khóc tỉ ti, / The wasp would sit there weeping,
Nhện ơi, nhện hỡi! Mày đi đằng nào. / O spider, my spider! Whither art thou gone?

In fact, the wasp has the habit of killing the mother spider, then bringing the spider larvae back to raise as its reserve food. However, the meaning of the poem is about the fate of adopted children. In old Vietnamese society, well-off families often adopted many children. They have a life no different from servants, and if they are girls, they will be allowed to marry their master's son. Even in my father's family, there are many men whose their parents have arranged for them to get married since birth. Therefore, there are two very funny facts : Both of bride and groom thought each other as brothers or sisters, the groom even carried the bride all day, because they were both just teenagers ; in addition, because family life was so mixed, incest occurs between father-in-law and daughter-in-law (if the husband was too young and the wife was older), mother-in-law and son-in-law, or this person's siblings and the other person's spouse was ever extremely common. That also makes genealogies only reveal half the truth.

When this poem is turned into a song, it contains another meaning, that is sad but more beautiful. Wasp and spider are like a couple who once had beautiful memories together, but then spider left and left wasp an endless sadness. In the song, the wasp counts the threads of spider silk to blame the spider for his ungratefulness. Finally, the wasp got caught in the spider's web and died. It must be added that the silk thread is a very popular literary and musical image in Vietnam, which represents the feelings of a couple when they are apart. The longer the thread, the fuller the nostalgia. If A develops feelings for B, then it is said that A has fallen into B's net.


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