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Friday Film Review: Tri orísky pro Popelku/Three Wishes for Cinderella

Tri orísky pro Popelku (Three Wishes for Cinderella, aka Three Nuts for Cinderella, aka Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel) (1973)
Genre: Fairy Tale
Grade: B

Estara’s comment about this Czech/East German TV production got me interested in seeing it. But wishing to see it and actually getting my hands on a Region 1 NTSC copy proved to be a challenge. I know I tried to order it from at least 4 different sources in the US before finally succeeding. And then as luck would have it, I discovered it on youtube in both the narrated, dubbed and subtitled forms.

Popelku (Libuse Safránková) is the much put upon stepdaughter/sister of Mother (Carola Braunbocková) and Dora (Dana Hlavácová). Her only joy comes in the rare moments when she gets to escape to the surrounding forest, riding her white stallion which her father gave her three years ago before his death. But those times are few as Mother can always make up impossible tasks when there is no other work to be done. Luckily helpful pigeons are always ready to lend a beak for those seed sorting nightmare jobs

Meanwhile the King (Rolf Hoppe) and Queen (Karin Lesch) are trying to get some actual knowledge drilled into the head of their son the Prince (Pavel Trávnícek) who also likes to take to the woods with his two buddies to go hunting and riding. It’s there that Popelku runs into them several times and not only out thinks them but also out rides and out shoots them too.

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But his parents insist on hosting a ball to find him a wife and when a servant is sent to town to buy material for Mother and Dora’s new dresses, he also brings back something for Popelku – three magic nuts. From one of them she gains a beautiful new ball gown and dazzles the young Prince before setting him a riddle. He must find her then tell her who she is before she’ll agree to marry him. But Mother is determined to get the Prince to marry Dora instead. Is he resourceful enough to dodge Dora then find his lady love and win her hand?

This is a darling little production. And with its winter setting, it’s perfect to watch this time of year. I must disagree with a lot of comments at IMDB about how inferior the Disney versions of Cinderella are compared to it though. They are just different and both equally good in their own right.

Here Popelku is a feisty young woman who can best just about any man in the kingdom. She rides like the wind, can shoot a crossbow with deadly aim as well as being cute as a bug’s ear and dancing like a cloud. She also seems a touch smarter than her Prince which will hopefully be passed on to their children. Meanwhile, the Prince starts out a bit of a handsome wastrel but I’ve no doubt that Popelku will snap him into shape before too long. One note though, PETA wouldn’t be too happy about the hunting scenes in the movie.

The music is charming but viewers better like the dreamy main theme as it’s repeated often and I found it running through my head for hours after watching the film. The winter scenery is gorgeous and I love the tiled fireplace at the authentic looking farmstead where Popelku and her family live. I’m not quite sure what to make of the costumes – are they realistic for some era or just a basic faux medieval? Watch for Mother’s enormous bat headdress to see what I mean. It also seems like the audio and video aren’t quite in sync on my DVD though it’s not so far off as to be annoying.

There is a lot of humor in this edition especially when Popelku runs circles around the Prince and his cohorts. The poor Prince also has to dance with some bruisers at the ball. Some of these women could be bar bouncers. But he also quickly knows his true love when he dances with her and is determined to track her down through the dead of night and the deepest snow.

So how can it be viewed? There are PAL as well as (harder to locate) NTSC DVDs to be found. But probably the easiest way to see it is from youtube. Good ol’ youtube! Three people have uploaded the film in its entirety: one has English narration (I think from an old BBC showing) while another has English subtitles and the third is dubbed in German. The NTSC DVD I have is basic bare bones with only the English subtitled film. Check it out and see why it’s so beloved in Europe for almost 40 years.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

39 Comments

  1. Mina Kelly
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 05:02:08

    The three nuts come from one of the Brothers Grimm versions of Cinderella (and a lot of their other ‘poor girl meets prince’ tales – if you get the complete Brothers Grimm there’s a lot of repetition!) and it’s nice to see them in an adaptation rather than the seemingly ubiquitous fairy godmother. I love that she meets the prince in advance in this adaptation. It gives a little more depth to the romance over love at first sight.

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  2. Jayne
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 06:53:32

    @Mina Kelly: Actually in two of the Rodgers and Hammerstein versions the two meet before the ball. Which makes the fact that he can’t recoginize her without the footware seem strange. At least here, she was wearing a veil while they were dancing. ;)

    And I love the fact that it’s Popelku who rides the white horse!

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  3. Christine Merrill
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 09:20:19

    I love this movie! They used to play it as part of the “Children’s Film Festival” on CBS back in the 60′s. Finally, a Cinderella that could do things other than dance and clean house.

    I got the DVD a couple of years ago. Can’t remember if it is region 1 or 2. I encourage movie buffs to get a multi-region player since they are no more expensive than regular players, or to hack into their player menus and reset to region zero. It opens up the world to you, as far as getting these out of the way international romances.

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  4. Laura Florand
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 09:29:26

    This sounds very intriguing. I’m not usually a big fan of the Cinderella story, but I like the idea of a Cinderella who can out-ride and out-shoot the prince. :)

    Thanks for the review!

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  5. Leslie
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 10:22:35

    THANK YOU! I saw this movie (I think) on Kukla, Fran, and Ollie when I was a little, little kid and every now and again it pops up in my brain – particularly the scene where the ballgown comes out of the nuts and I have never figured out what it was. I am going to plant myself in front of YouTube this weekend and watch. My other FAVE movie from that time period is More Than A Miracle with Sophia Loren and Omar Sharif – another Cinderella-type story but with what adult me recognizes as a little more smolder. Every now and again it shows up on TCM, so keep your eyes open.
    BTW, this weekend on TCM, there are several great romantic films, including Kiss Me Kate, The Swan, and The Prince and the Showgirl – if the snow arrives like it is supposed to in the Midwest, you know where to find me.

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  7. Iris
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 12:48:45

    Ahh, thank you for reviewing this gem and making it known across the Atlantic. “Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel” is one of THE Christmas movies in Germany. At least three channels will show it around that time of the year. Not that I don’t have it on DVD but it’s always worth to watch it again.
    This was the version of Cinderella that was the most influential during my formative years. All the other incarnations, while still good, just seem to be lacking that special something.
    And yes, the prince is definitely a bit dim.

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  8. Sirius11214
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 13:36:01

    Awwww, one of the most beloved movies of my childhood. I can watch it even now over and over again. Love this one, thank you for reviewing it :)

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  9. cate
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 17:29:36

    Oh the memories this brought back. The BBC showed this when I was a little girl !
    I loved the narrators voice, & it’s just a gorgeous adaptation. I must try to get my mitts on a copy of the DVD.
    Thanks Jayne…& a Happy New Year to you !

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  10. Jayne
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 19:13:26

    @Christine Merrill: A while ago, I think with my review of “Paperback Hero,” someone mentioned getting a region free player but when I looked into it, a lot of sites and posters said that these are just already hacked region specific players and thus subject to going wonky from having this done. Can anyone tell me if there is truly a region free player made? And would PAL vs NTSC matter?

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  11. Jayne
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 19:15:25

    @Laura Florand: She’s very handy with her crossbow and manages to ride the Prince’s horse – the one that terrifies even his buddies. There are also some clips of the movie on youtube in French!

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  12. Jayne
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 19:18:58

    @Iris: I had wanted to get this review up before Christmas since a few posters had mentioned that it’s shown at that time in Germany but couldn’t manage it. Better late than never!

    Perhaps the Prince is just young and stupid vs just being stupid. At any rate, Popelku and the Queen seem to be the brains of the operation.

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  13. Jayne
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 19:21:56

    @cate: There is someone selling copies on ebay that are PAL format – Czech language and English subtitles. The English language narration is posted at youtube.

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  14. Bella F.
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 00:16:43

    thanks, definitely gonna look for it on youtube!

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  15. Angela Henry
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 01:03:04

    I haven’t seen this since I was kid watching Kukla, Fran and Ollie! I’ve always loved it. Thanks for letting me know where I can watch it again ; ).

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  16. sao
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 02:57:05

    Many countries outlaw region-free DVD players, but almost all are hackable. The standard “region-free” player in Russia is one where the hack instructions are put in the box.

    Most hack instructions are readily available on the web.Try http://www.videohelp.com/DVDHacks

    The instructions are usually pretty simple, often with a screen popping up on your TV to make the input of a new code easy.

    The reason for region encoding is to allow the movie companies to sell you movies at a higher price than they are sold in other markets. The fact that this makes some movies unavailable and is a major inconvenience to the millions and millions of people whose first language is not the language of their region is not important to movie companies.

    There are around 38 million immigrants in the US, so I’d say a very conservative estimate is 100 million people in the world with the money to buy DVDs and DVD players but wanting them in some language/culture different from their region.

    I guess you have to decide if the limits placed on your movie viewing are worth supporting the obnoxious region-encoding policy.

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  17. Niveau
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 03:41:10

    I just finished watching it on youtube and oh, the costumes! They are dreadfully wonderful. Half of me is afraid that they might be historically accurate, because of the beautiful wtferry, and the other half wants them to be historically accurate for the same reason.

    I have to say that I loved how young Cindy and the prince looked – it was a sweet romance so there wasn’t a huge need to make them older. They were so cute :) Plus it let them have a prince who didn’t even want to get married in the first place, because playing with his friends was more fun. I find a prince who gets over that to be way more charming than one who, in a totally historical fashion! ugh, doesn’t want to get married because ohnoes, the commitment! No more sexytimes with courtesans and whatnot! The rather-be-with-friends version? Way better.

    I would never have found this movie on my own – thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

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  18. Malin
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 07:45:38

    This film is a Norwegian Christmas tradition, and is shown every Christmas Eve. Lots of people don’t consider it Christmas until they’ve watched it. Last year it had viewing figures of over 600 000, which is a LOT when you consider that the total population of Norway is less than 5 million.

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  19. Jayne
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 07:46:16

    @sao: Bastard movie companies… Yet another instance of near sighted companies almost forcing people to file share and make bootleg copies.

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  20. Jayne
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 07:51:59

    @Niveau: Aren’t the court costumes, uh, something? Popelku’s dresses were nice though.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And your comments are the reason why I spend time seeking out lesser known films. It’s easy to do the popular ones that everyone’s seen but the little gems I’ve found along the way are what really motivate me.

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  21. Jayne
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 07:57:39

    @Malin: Holy sh*t that’s a lot of people watching it! I’m just curious – is it dubbed or subtitled in Norwegian?

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  22. Estara
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 15:06:13

    Wow, I never expected you to be interested enough to track this down ^^. I saw the German upload on Youtube but didn’t realise there was an English one there, or I’d have linked you to that.

    I’m happy you found it worth the effort you put into locating it ^^, and I agree that it’s a question of taste as to which Cinderellas are preferable.

    Incidentally my Australian DVD of the Slipper and the Rose finally reached me after Christmas, too, as did the soundtrack CD ^^. So it’s a happy end for both of our efforts, heh.

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  23. Estara
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 15:11:34

    @Jayne: PAL vs. NTSC matters, I believe; at least regarding your TV’s ability to show it. Current flatscreen TVs in Germany show NTSC, PAL and SECAM as a matter of course.

    I bought a Panasonic DVD player made region-free via software manipulation and have had no problem whatsoever with it. Which is handy as most of my anime DVDs are US format ^^.

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  24. Sirius11214
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 15:12:36

    @Jayne:

    Don’t know about Norvegian, but in Russian it was dupped.

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  25. Jayne
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 19:22:48

    @Estara: I’m always up for a challenge…and finding this one quickly turned into a quest. And once I’m on a quest, it becomes almost an obsession. ;)

    My current one is finding this movie Leslie mentioned, “More Than a Miracle.” Anyone know where I can get an NTSC dubbed or English subtitled DVD?

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  26. Estara
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 08:48:24

    Well, I can’t find anything to buy with English. The Italian DVD is available (Original Name: C’Era Una Volta) and someone seems to have uploaded the Italian movie in 11 parts on youtube.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spYxp6DgqPM
    The uploader links to a complete version at Megavideo.

    I don’t like it based on this first impression of the first part of 11, when Omar Sharif whips a horse into submission. No subs though.

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  27. Jayne
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 09:38:11

    @Estara: Oh, I didn’t watch past the first 2 minutes when I realized there were no subtitles. It seems like a lot of posters at IMDB love it but the overall ranking is fairly low.

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  28. cate
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 10:37:19

    I’ve seen it on Lear media as a dvd, & I think it may be dubbed into English – but it is on the pricey side @ 27 dollars

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  29. cate
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 10:39:41

    @Jayne: Sorry Jayne ,my previuos comment should have said….More Than A Miracle is available from…… ! Put it down to post Chrimbo cleaning fumes !!!

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  30. Leslie
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 15:49:27

    I forgot about the horse-whipping part – I think it is part of establishing Sharif as an Alpha-Lord-of-all-he-surveys who ends up being kinda humbled by love but the witches and Sofia Loren’s flashing eyes are really the stars. It is a movie with crazy Euro-60s wtfery and a fun love story; the costumes are outrageous and the acting goes way over the top sometimes, but damn, I love that movie.

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  31. Jayne
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 18:35:20

    @Leslie: Oooph, $26 for 60′s WTFery is kinda steep. I’ll keep this title on the back burner and see if it’s ever available for (a lot) less.

    I did look at the last segment that was loaded on youtube and, damn!, Sophia Loren is a beautiful woman.

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  32. dinazad
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 10:54:08

    @Niveau: Popelka and the prince not only look young, they were young. Libuse Safranková was 16 or 17 at the time the film was made (she also starred in “Kolya” which got the Oscar best foreign language film some years ago – definitely another film to review!)

    Incidentally, Cinderella is Popelka in Czech (Popelku is the accusative case)…

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  33. Thalia
    May 04, 2011 @ 04:32:50

    @Jayne: Late reply, but the version they show in Norway is dubbed. It’s part of its weird charm, actually, since every single character is done by the same (male) actor.

    Incidentally, I discovered and bought the non-dubbed, English subtitled version of the film a few years ago on a website for movies you couldn’t get anywhere else, but I think they may have closed down since then.

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  34. Jayne
    May 04, 2011 @ 07:26:02

    @Thalia: An all male dubbing job would be interesting to listen to! Thanks for the information.

    Unfortunately those sites for movies you can’t find anywhere else have a tendency to close down right before I go looking for something. Sigh…

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  35. Thalia
    May 04, 2011 @ 16:44:42

    @Jayne: Really, the best part is that you can still hear the original audio playing in the background. =D

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  36. Mark
    May 20, 2011 @ 16:49:34

    I discovered this film because people at my “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” website kept asking for it.

    http://kukla.tv

    It was unavailable in the U.S., so I got a VHS from the Czech Republic, had a friend record a translation, and subtitled it myself.

    Why? Because it’s the best version of the Cinderella story ever produced! If you haven’t seen it, do so!

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  37. Jayne
    May 20, 2011 @ 16:57:36

    @Mark: Wow, that is true dedication.

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  38. Annette
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 14:02:46

    I have been trying to order a region 1 copy for a year. Every time I find one and order it, eventually the order gets cancelled as it is not available. It was a childhood favorite of mine that I would love to share with my daughter.

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  39. Jayne
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 17:17:41

    @Annette: Try ebay. That’s where I finally found my copy after going through exactly what you have with trying to order it from many places only for the order to be cancelled.

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