“The Humpbacked Horse––dubbed in the United States as The Magic Pony––is a 1947 Soviet film directed by animator Ivan 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 everyone in the film speaks in rhymes.
A young peasant boy named Ivan witnesses a magical flying horse eating hay from his farm at night while his older brothers sleep. The horse gives him two large black horses and a small humpbacked horse, all of which have magical abilities. When his brothers attempt to sell the black horses behind Ivan’s back, he instead sells them to the Tsar himself, becoming their official caretaker. Jealous of Ivan’s sudden success, the Tsar’s right-hand man prompts the king to make wild demands of Ivan, such as capture a fire bird or retrieve a rumored Tsar-Maiden. Ivan completes all these tasks with the help of his humpbacked horse.
Yershov wrote the fairy-tale poem “The Little Humpbacked Horse”––his masterpiece––in 1834, at the age of 19. It brought him instant fame. Censors banned the complete story for over 20 years in the mid-19th century because it made the Tsar appear foolish. Until 1856, the tale was published with dots representing omitted verses and songs in many sections. The tale is meant to be a satire on the absurdities of Russian feudal and bureaucratic life at the time.
In 1975, the film’s director, 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).
This was done because the original film was then in a very bad shape and the technical expertise for a restoration did not exist.
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.”
Having desirable Missouri back mark, specifically, L W. McSchooler, Weston, Mo. McSchooler captured a trio of veteran western troopers complete with sabers taken from a raised porch looking on to the narrow city street. A gaggle of curious on-lookers including boys standing with other
soldiers line the far side of a brick storefront with prominent sign or
clock. One civilian gazes at the camera from behind a glass window.
Weston, Missouri was a Union base of operations in 1864 but the cdv
bears no identification. Unusual wartime Missouri subject.
VOICES FROM THE CIVIL WAR- A SOUTHERNER FIGHTS FOR THE UNION
“I loved my country too well to stand idly by, and see it insulted without lending my aid in its support. So, I shouldered my gun and went forth to meet the cowards who had run me away from my native home because of my attachment to the government of my fathers. I was the first and probably the only Georgian who represented that state in the great contest for freedom and equal rights. I did not receive a cent of bounty for my service. I asked for none.”
- J.R. Matthews to A. Johnson, June 12, 1865, Johnson Papers.
Photo: Major Robinson’s battery of horse artillery near Richmond VA photographed by James F. Gibson June, 1863.