Apparently, some kind of Ilya Muromyets vs. Solovey the Bandit cartoon came out in Russia back in 2007. (Not the first animated version of the story, either. Apparently there was a 1978 Soviet one, which seems to be on YouTube in its entirety. Without subs.) The trailer’s pretty long, but apparently that’s just the beginning of the story. Here’s another trailer with more. None of this stuff has subs, but I think you’ll get the idea.
And apparently, there was a tie-in videogame.
Ilya Muromyets (Ilya of Murom) was of course one of the great knightly heroes of Kyiv (ie, Ukrainian), who was adopted by Russians for their own* and given a Russian origin. In real life, he was a guy named Ilya Pechersky who retired from the warrior game, became a monk, and was buried at Kiev’s Pechersky monastery. Much like St. William of Gellone, who became famous in the Matter of France (as the knight William of Orange), his pre-monk career became the stuff of legend.
As in, “born a cripple but healed by two mysterious pilgrims, he was given supernatural strength by the dying knight Svyatogor (but not a Green Lantern ring), and immediately hurried to serve Prince Vladimir the Beautiful Sun down in Kyiv, encountering many adventures before he came at last to Camelot… er, Kyiv.”
Now… as all of you who play “casual games” know, you often get some pretty freaky videogames from other countries. (You can tell because the translations for hidden object names can be somewhat ‘unique’.) Russian- and Slavic-origin videogames in this arena get translated fairly frequently, as with the Natalie Brooks series.
So… sure enough… the Ilya Muromyets video game is here, translated as Elias the Mighty. (Ilya does equal Elias or Elijah, depending on who you ask.) It’s a pretty good matching gallery/shape recognition game, and you can try it for thirty minutes for free.
I do notice that Solovey (his name means “Nightingale”, and indeed, he had Deadly Sonic Powers!) is depicted in clothes that might make you think he was a Tatar or a Cossack or something of that nature. That wasn’t how I read the story… he was never an outlander in anything I ever read. He and his men were gen-u-ine nativeborn bandits, yeehaw! But the 1978 Soviet one makes the guy look like some kind of evil Arab genie, so possibly I’ve been missing some kind of cultural stereotyping of him.
Here’s a trailer for a previous animated movie (2006) about the Kyiv bogatyri and Prince Vladimir, also from Melnitsa Animation Studio. This one was about Dobrynya Nikit’ich and Zmei the Dragon. Dobrynya’s the skinny peasant guy.
(And apparently whatever bizarre Polovtsi stereotype they were working with Solovey, the way they draw actual Tartar characters is Even More So. Sheesssssh. But Kyiv’s awfully purty, and nobody does Freaky Dragon Voices like Russian people. And there’s a musical number.)
Here’s yet another trailer for a movie from Melnitsa Animation (2004), all about Alyosha Popovich and Tugarin Zmei, another byliny story about the Kyiv knights. Alyosha’s the beefy blond guy. He’s a (married Orthodox) priest’s kid, so like all Preacher’s Kids he’s got issues. One of the clips posted on YouTube shows his baptism, which is a hoot.
They’ve got a trailer for yet another movie that is coming soon: The Three Bogatyrs and the Shamanic Tsaritsa. Oooooh, that does look like a scary magical queen… a scary Arabic queen and not a scary shamanic queen… um. (Yeah, kind of a theme here. But then, Moscow’s gotten bombed a lot more often than New York, so I guess I can understand that. And Evil Tartars are part of the whole Russian byliny thing, just as much as Evil Saracens are in Arthur and Charlemagne. Although you do get good Saracens in both, though usually ones in the process of converting.)
These all seem to be pretty much comedies, but they’re just so darned pretty. I wish we could get some Arthurian flicks of at least this quality, though without Evil Saxon Stereotyping, of course.
* Of course, the Norman English and the French and the Germans and half of Europe all made that Welsh dude Arthur a culture hero of their own, and the English pretty much appropriated him despite being descended from his Saxon enemies.
So there you go. Everybody belongs to everybody. Just don’t try to get imperialist over your neighbor with it.