Laika (Kubo) and Cartoon Salon (Book of Kells) may have made animated folk tales de rigueur again, but cartoons have been used to tell myths and legends for as almost as long as the medium has existed.
Look beyond wisecracking rabbits and Acme explosives and you’ll find that the history of animation is awash with shorts and features that are rightly regarded as masterpieces.
However, the likes of Disney’s musical Fantasia and Takashi’s Odyssean homage, Metamorphoses, both took Greco-Roman myth as their inspiration. And perhaps it’s the West’s obsession with the Ancient worlds of Homer and Ovid that explains why Marcell Janovicks’ Son of the White Mare somehow failed to take its place in the parthenon of classic animations.
Son of the White Mare deals with Hungarian mythic heroes, Treeshaker, Stonecrumbler, and Irontemperer, as they journey to the underworld on an epic quest to battle ancient evil. Released in 1981, a restoration was undertaken in 2019, with plans for a theatrical release, but that was soundly scuppered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The good news is that that 4k restoration is now available as part of Eureka’s Masters of Cinema series, which was supervised and approved by Janovick.
Son of the White Mare has been called ‘the greatest psychedelic movie ever made’, but that unfairly pigeonholes it as a counterculture curiosity. In truth, Son of the White Mare is both hallucinatory and visionary with an artistic canvas that takes in everything from early animation, to prog rock, and classic video games. The result is a kaleidoscopic and otherworldly vision that’s every bit as wild and as colourful and the tales that inspired it.
Son of the White Mare is a true spectacle in every sense of the word, offering up a visually striking artwork that’s unexpected, strange, and thrilling in equal measure. True, it isn’t a film that will appeal to everyone. But if you love animation, you must see this.
Limited edition o-card slipcase (first 2000 copies only).
Jankovics’ first animated feature (and Hungary’s first ever animated film), Johnny Corncob.
Sisyphus short film.
The Struggle short film.
Dreams on Wings short film.
Extensive interview with Jankovics, plus director featurette.