Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Mermaid, A Russian Fable

This is the most beautifully animated film I've ever seen. It is "painted glass" animation by a Russian artist (probably Orthodox, as you will see). As far as I can tell, the story is a permutation of the Russian mythology that mermaids were the souls of women who were murdered or committed suicide and they were released when someone avenged their death. This mermaid seems to be the soul of a woman who committed suicide when her lover (the old man) married another woman. She seeks revenge by tempting the son (or grandson) of her former fiancee. (I may have this wrong... Russo-philes, please fill in the blanks!) Anyway...the beauty alone is worth the time watching.

H/T to Mair


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you can answer these questions, but how much folk religion and/or pagan customs were or are now accepted by the average Orthodox Christian in Russia or of Russian heritage? I realize that many things can be baptized into the Church but it also seems that other things exist that have not and are contrary to the Gospel. Is this a problem today? I confess my ignorance on these matters but I have come across a certain degree of superstition that seems confused and misguided at best. Any thoughts on this or do you know of a good resourse to become informed on these things? Thanks,


s-p said...

Hi Stephen, I don't know that I can answer that with any real specifics. I know there are elements of superstition in all Christian religions, including Protestantism (of course there are those who would say "name it and claim it" is "faith" and not superstition...) Actually most superstitions seem to be centered on a somewhat pagan concept of God, that He can be bribed, impressed or bargained with by sacrifices or pious works etc. In one sense this definition would make the juridical view of salvation the ultimate superstition: Jesus bought off or traded His good works for us with God. (No one likes to think of that...) I've never come across any source that identifies the "mermaid myth" as being real or accepted as true by Russian Orthodoxy any more than we would think of Aesop's fables or Hans Christian Andersen or Grimm's Fairy Tales as being "Christian" even though they have a lot of Christian values and lessons in them. Anyway, good question, the intersection of culture and faith is always an interesting study.

Kirk said...

Beautifully animated, though a somewhat disturbing tale. What does it mean? In the words of the eunuch, how can I understand this unless someone explains it to me?

s-p said...

Hi Kirk,
I'm sure there's a "moral" to the story like all fables. I'm hoping I can find someone who knows Russian folklore to explain it more fully than what I could gather. I'll keep looking however. BTW, if you can, drop me an email and let me know how your meeting went.

Andrea Elizabeth said...

Perhaps it is meant to be fiction, but with some basic beliefs about prayer and consequences that extend beyond the grave. Not that they literally believe in mermaids or ghosts, but there is a warning that actions, such as carelessly breaking someone's heart, have consequences, even if someone later becomes pious. Blood cries out from the ground, as it were.

It seems that the old man's prayers were answered in that the grandson was spared and became pious himself.