“Мавка. Лісова пісня”- the most expected Ukrainian cartoon that became more popular than the second Avatar in Ukraine in the first weekend! And it is the first Ukrainian cartoon that will be will be shown in 80 countries of the world! In most countries, the premiere is announced from April to August 2023.
The plot of the cartoon is partially based on the most famous play of Ukrainian writer Lesya Ukrainka called “Лісова пісня” - “The Forest Song” (1911). It is an extravaganza drama that has fantasy motives and tells about relationships between a forest spirit Mavka and a human boy Lukash. Image of Lesya’s Mavka and other forest spirits in the play were based on Ukrainian mythology but have serious differences from it.
In mythology, Mavkas are souls of young girls that killed themselves because of unhappy love and decided to stay as a forest, meadow, or steppe spirits that seduce men and take them to the middle of the forest so they get lost in it. Mavkas look like very pretty girls, but there is a small scary moment - they don’t have a back and you may see their dead organs inside.
But let’s speak about mythology later and get back to the Mavka of Lesya Ukrainka. The play character is a kind tender spirit, a protector of the forest, that falls in love with Lukash, a human boy that plays a beautiful melody on the flute. Mavka’s love is a high pure feeling that opposes human love. And in result a human love destroys both Mavka and Lukash, and the play has a very sad ending. In fact, the “Forest Song” is kind of a mix between the Ukrainian mythological plot and classical traditions of ancient Greek drama.
But the cartoon was created not as a screen adaptation of the play, but just based on it. The creators of the cartoon, the company Animagrad took the main heroes and setting and created their own kind story that is perfect for family watching. In the cartoon, you will see traditional Ukrainian costumes, accessories, dances, fair. You will observe how Ukrainian houses looked like inside and even what dishes people used (in one of the scenes there is a cup from Kosiv ceramics, remember, I have a YouTube video about it?).
The language of the cartoon is very modern and will be easy to understand for Ukrainian language learners. Also, you will hear a few very beautiful songs. So the cartoon could help you with your Ukrainian too!
The plot of course is primarily aimed at children, but as an adult, I have received a huge pleasure watching it too! I really enjoyed the quality of the animation and sound. Many famous Ukrainian people (actors and singers) took part in the voiceover.
The song of Mavka and Lookash was sung by popular Ukrainian singers Artem Pyvovarov and Khrystyna Soloviy.
The cartoon was in production since 2017 and the creators were very serious about every detail. They even went to Volyn forests to use their nature as a reference for forest animation.
You could also pay attention that the cartoon Mavka has green hair. Mavkas very often are shown with green hair in mythology too, but now always. Lesya’s Mavka had black hair with green glitter.
Ukrainians were looking forward to the “Mavka” cartoon a lot, and when it was released, the cinemas very absolutely full! I could barely buy a ticket when I went there. The cinema hall was full of parents with kids and young people, and everyone was inspired. Kids laughed, adults smiled and I honestly even shed a tear at some point.
So if you see the “MAVKA” movie posters in your country, I highly recommend you to visit it! Because, on the one hand, you will really enjoy it, and on another hand, it is a great way to support Ukrainian cinematography.
And as a Ukrainian language teacher, I strongly recommend you watch it in Ukrainian to practice your listening skills and to get a bit closer to the beautiful Ukrainian culture.
And if you are interested in a screen adaptation of actually Lesya Ukrainka’s play, you can watch a movie by Kyiv Dovzhenko studio “Лісова пісня” from 1961. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have subtitles, but it is a high-quality screen adaptation with text from the play.
Thanks for your interest in the Ukrainian language and culture! Please like this post and help me to share it, so more people could hear about this magical Ukrainian story!
You can also watch my video about the cartoon "Mavka. The Forest Song":