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Laughter and Grief by the White Sea

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Director  Leonid Nosyrev
Music director  Evgeniy Botyarov
Language  Russian
7.2/10 IMDb

Genre  Animation, Comedy, Drama
Country  USSR
Laughter and Grief by the White Sea movie poster

Writer  Yury Koval, Boris Shergin, Stepan Pisakhov, Genrikh Sapgir
Release date  1987 (USSR)
Screenplay  Yuriy Koval, Genrikh Sapgir, Leonid Nosyrev
Cast  Evgeni Leonov, Klara Rumyanova, Mariya Vinogradova, Anatoliy Barantsev, Yuri Volyntsev, Boris Novikov
Similar movies  Shake, Rattle & Roll III, Seven Hells, The Horror Vault 3, Shake, Rattle & Roll V, Shake, Rattle & Roll IV, Wild Tales

Laughter and Grief by the White Sea (Russian: Смех и го́ре у Бе́ла мо́ря; tr.:Smekh i gore u Bela morya) is a 1988 Soviet traditionally animated feature film directed by Leonid Nosyrev made at the Soyuzmultfilm studio. The film is a celebration of the culture of the Russian Pomors who live around the White Sea.


Laughter and Grief by the White Sea movie scenes

It is based on stories by folklorists and writers Boris Shergin and Stepan Pisakhov, except for the last segment which is based on a real event that happened in 1857.

Laughter and Grief by the White Sea httpsiytimgcomvinsQEMydU3Rshqdefaultjpg


In the evening, several Pomor men have brought in their boats for the day and are relaxing in a fishermen's hut by the light of a kerosene lamp. The eldest of them tells them that "there has been so much untruth told about our region" that he wants to set the record straight and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. With that said, he begins his first tale.

Eternal Icebergs (Вечны льдины)

A tale of how the villagers of the Arkhangelsk Oblast (along with the polar bears who work for them) sell "eternal icebergs", which they use in place of boats.

About the Bear (Про медведя)

Because this is, after all, the North, no brown bears are allowed in the villages – only white polar bears. This is a tale about a brown bear who finds some baking powder, makes himself white, and attempts to sneak into a village.

Frozen Songs (Морожены песни)

A tale by Stepan Pisakhov. In the winter, it sometimes gets so cold that words freeze as soon as they come out of your mouth. This tale is about how a German merchant buys frozen songs from the people and shows them to a packed concert hall in Germany.

The Magic Ring (Волшебное кольцо)

The old man decides to tell a tale about the cat and the dog that the Pomors keep for company in the hut. The tale itself was written by Boris Shergin.

The Sawess (Перепилиха)

A tale about a woman who meets a bear while in the woods and discovers that she has an extremely powerful voice – so powerful that it makes the bear faint and cuts through everything (hence the name "Perepilikha", which comes from "perepilit", "to saw through"). She takes the bear home as a trophy and yells at her husband so much that she bores a hole through his chest. The husband finds that the hole makes music when he breathes and that he can now sing with accompaniment. In the end, the Perepilikha's voice is put to a good use – cutting trees for the men.

The Orange (Апельсин)

A tale about how the narrator once accidentally threw an orange overboard while crossing the river. The orange proceeds to grow into a huge tree (growing in the middle of the river) with one gigantic orange-shaped fruit at its top. They can't cut off the fruit, so they decide to bring in the Sawess. The fruit turns out to be full of hundreds of oranges which rain down on the deck of the ship. In the polar winter, they find that the orange has absorbed the sun's light from the summer and gives them light during the whole season.

Ivan and Andrian (Иван и Андреян)

With the evening getting later, the old man tells a more serious tale. The tale is about two fishermen who decide to spend the night on a small rocky island in the sea. At night a huge storm comes upon them and sinks their boat. Left on the island with no hope of escape or rescue, and knowing that they are going to die, they come to the conclusion the nobody is going to have anything to remember them by and so decide to carve their story on the piece of wood which they used for cutting fish. Meanwhile, their mother sings a song lamenting their deaths. The younger dies 6 weeks later – the date of death of the older is not recorded on the beautifully carved board.

With his last tale finished, the old man asks his audience if they are asleep. "We're alive", one of them answers.

Historical basis for "Ivan and Andrian"

The last tale is based upon a real carved epitaph that was found on a nameless island in the Arctic Ocean. The art and text carved onto it was recorded by Boris Shergin. The name "Ondriyan" is changed to "Andrian" in the film, and the epitaph is shortened from the original.

Here is the literal translation of the original epitaph from Russian (no rhymes as in the original):
The shipwrights, Ivan and Ondriyan,
Here ended their earthly labours,
And collapsed into the long rest,
And wait for the archangel's horn.
In the autumn of 1857
Thunderous bad weather enveloped the sea.
By God's judgement or by our own dumb error
Our boat was lost with our fishing gear and provisions,
And we, brothers, were forced on this barren rock
To wait for the hour of death.
To distract our minds from timeless boredom
To this whole board we applied our determined hands...
Ondriyan graced this frame with carvings for mirth,
Ivan wrote the chronicle for disclosing
That we are of Lichutin kin, sons of Grigoriy,
Mezen townsmen.
And remember us, all who sail past
These parts of the ocean-sea.

Original Russian text:
Корабельные плотники Иван с Ондреяном
Здесь скончали земные труды,
И на долгий отдых повалились,
И ждут архангеловой трубы.
Осенью 1857 года
Окинула море грозна непогода.
Божьим судом или своей оплошкой
Карбас утерялся со снастьми и припасом,
И нам, братьям, досталось на здешней корге
Ждать смертного часу.
Чтоб ум отманить от безвременной скуки,
К сей доске приложили мы старательны руки.
Ондриян ухитрил раму резьбой для увеселения,
Иван летопись писал для уведомления,
Что родом мы Личутины, Григорьевы дети,
Мезенски мещана.
И помяните нас все плывущие
В сих концах моря-окияна.


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