I can’t say it was an exquisite film, but it had its beauties. I couldn’t put it better than does (today’s) Wikipedia: “The film also features a detailed portrayal of Ukrainian Hutsul culture, showing not only the harsh Carpathian environment and brutal family rivalries, but also the beauty of Hutsul traditions, music, costumes, and dialect.” (Can’t comment about the dialect, of course.)
Here are a couple of scenes from the film’s “Christmas” section.
Some Hutsul music:
(Still tangentially sticking to Eastern European folk music, Wikipedia tells us: “One of the main attributes of Hutsul males is their bartok, a small head axe on a long handle.”)
The Jew’s harp figured prominently in the movie’s music – surprising, at first but, after some thought, not so much, considering how important the drone is in Hutsul music. A short scene from the film of two women animatedly strumming on their Jew’s harps didn’t seem available on You Tube.
Here is a You Tube clip of a Hutsul drymba (Jew’s harp) player, a shaman as well, from 2011. (The music begins after a 50-second introduction.)
Most of the other peasant genre scenes on the Axentowicz website don’t really look like they are Hutsul – the costumes are not colorful enough.
As I was checking a few of them out, I came across this one: Lirnik i dziewczyna, which Google translates (Polish to English) as “Lyrist and Girl.”
The instrument is a hurdy-gurdy. Yes, I know, most people think a hurdy-gurdy is a sort of barrel organ with a monkey on top. No. It is a string instrument whose strings are bowed by a rosined wheel rotated by the performer. I went to You Tube, where there were many hurdy-gurdy videos. I was struck by this one. (Like Axentowicz, I too am an appreciator of romantic late 19th century women, and I fell in love with the second hurdy-gurdiest. Please tell me, that’s her father, in the revolutionary era officer’s cap, yes?)
The song is a popular old Russian song, The Black Crow. It even comes into the Parajanov film, a Hutsul version of the song accompanying images of crows. (Not in You Tube, sorry. Unless you watch the whole film.)
It turns out that Russia’s The Black Crow is a version of The Twa Corbies (The Two Ravens), via Sir Walter Scott and Pushkin, who translated Scott’s rendition of the old ballad.
Here’s a version of the Scottish ballad (which is a more cynical version of the English folksong, The Three Ravens, the one that ends with “God send every gentleman/such hawks, such hounds and such a leman.”)
As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies makin a mane;
The tane unto the ither say,
"Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?"
"In ahint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new slain knight;
And nane do ken that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound an his lady fair."
"His hound is tae the huntin gane,
His hawk tae fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady's tain anither mate,
So we may mak oor dinner swate."
"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een;
Wi ae lock o his gowden hair
We'll theek oor nest whan it grows bare."
"Mony a one for him makes mane,
But nane sall ken whar he is gane;
Oer his white banes, whan they are bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair."
Steeleye Span. A poor video; a good performance:
The performer is Rhiannon Giddens. Giddens is the lead singer of an old-timey banjo band, The Carolina Chocolate Drops. They’re pretty good, but this, this is incredible: