Sunday, March 2, 2014

What Does the Fox Say?

If you ask any Hungarian born before the millennium to list their top 10 favorite childhood movies, Vuk (The Little Fox or The Fox Cub) will be one of the answers, so the importance of the book in our culture is unquestionable. Several generations have grown up watching the adventures of the fox cub on VHS, later on DVD. Although it is originally a novel, the story got famous through the 1981 animated movie, so this post is not based on the written version. You might have heard the title in another context: the 2008 animation A Fox's Tale ranked as one of the worst movies on IMDB with its 2,4 points. I have no idea what it is like to watch the new version without having seen the original, but I still vote against it.

István Fekete, the author of Vuk is famous for his novels about Hungarian rural life, especially that of untouched nature. Most of his books include stories of animals: one about a stork, one about an owl, one about an otter, another one about a fox. As many other children's book, Vuk has a lot to say to grown ups too. To me, its main message is that the "civilized" man has no right to rob the nature of its treasures, but his ignorant actions harm the flora and fauna eternally.

If you really want to find and even more universal message, it might be that if we keep doing what we are doing, there will be nothing to ruin. Similarly to WALL-E, Vuk can be used in an environmental protection campaign.

The story is sad, touching but has a happy ending, the characters are simple and lovable, the gags do make you laugh and you can have a glance at Hungarian rural life in the sixties, all wrapped up in a retro animation. Ideal for a family movie night.

Fun Fact:
The infamous theme song of Vuk featured a then little girl, Kati Wolf, who decades later participated in the Hungarian X-Factor, and made it to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011.

Here is a YouTube video in Hungarian with English subtitles and the 1981 animation in English, 7 parts, also YouTube.

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