Music Box: Belarussian Folksongs Presented in Cartoons

Published: October 15, 2020

Music Box (Музычная скарбонка) is a series of a few Belarusian short animated films that illustrate and give context to Belarusian folk songs. They were released in 2009 and 2012 by Belarusfilm (Беларусьфільм), the country’s national film studio. They range from three to about 10 minutes long.

The series includes songs from a range of genres within the overall folk song umbrella. There are lullabies, humorous songs, and holiday songs—in particular songs associated with Kalyada (Каляда), a traditional Slavic holiday celebrated around Christmas Eve. In one episode from 2009, a new mother sings a song while rocking her newborn to sleep. She’s also sewing a stuffed-animal rabbit for the baby, and it comes to life and with its kitten friend alternately goes on adventures and makes sure the baby is still sleeping comfortably.

The 2012 episodes are mostly humorous, set to the songs “My Mother Wanted to Marry Me Off” and “How I Served for the Pan” (the Belarusian/Polish word for “lord,” basically). Neither ends how you’d expect—the songs may be satirical, but they don’t provide a simple, happy ending.

The first film, with the lullabies, was written and drawn by Tatyana Kublitskaya (Татьяна Кублицкая). She’s been working chiefly as an animator for Belarusfilm for most of her career, though she has also occasionally illustrated books. One of the directors for the 2012 set of films was Mikhail Tumelya (Міхаіл Тумеля), who is known chiefly for his extensive animation work at Belarusfilm. Interestingly, though, he was also an animator for the 2013 Japanese version of Cheburashka.


Directors: Vladimir Petkevich (Владимир Петкевич), Mikhail Tumelya (Міхаіл Тумеля), Tatyana Kublitskaya (Татьяна Кублицкая), Natalya Kostyuchenko (Наталья Костюченко)
Voice actors: unknown
Production studio: Belarusfilm (Беларусьфільм)


“How I Served the Pan” (“Як служыу жа я у пана”):

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie Hersh is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

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