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Home | Film Review: Baba Yaga (1973)

Film Review: Baba Yaga (1973)


A photographer finds herself falling under the spell of a witch.


Baba Yaga is the kind of movie you watch at three o’clock in the morning, probably after having watched one or two other films and just trying to keep your eyes open. You know the feeling, you barely remember what you just watched. Even though I viewed it at around 8 pm with a cup of coffee in hand and no previous movies to burn me out, that same old feeling came over me almost immediately. Not really a criticism or a praise. My advice would be to turn off your cellphone or you might find yourself multitasking. It’s all style over substance and your better off getting lost in the atmosphere and dream like qualities then paying close attention to the plot. That being said let’s talk about the plot

Based on an adult comic book I know nothing about and inspired by Russian folklore that I know even less about, is adapted here for your Eurotrash pleasure into a film that follows the happenings of a happening hip fashion photographer, Valentina, who becomes buddies with a witchy woman with a hidden agenda. The movies kind of a mess and there’s no concrete plot. One night Valentina ditches her love interest Arno (What kind of name is that) and decides to walk home alone late at night. She is picked up by the witch Baba Yaga. She somehow knows where Valentina lives and informs her they were destined to meet. Valentina has no reaction to the ladies stalker like quality or really a reaction to anything else in the movie. Baba Yaga shows up at Valentina’s apartment/photo studio for no reason the next day and Valentina doesn’t care.

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There’s really no scene that establishes any kind of bond or strong connection between these two characters to justify their relationship. Nor anything that clearly proves Baby Yaga is actually a witch like she eventually admits to. For all we know she’s just an old lesbian lady that tries to seduce young women with some kinky promise of becoming a witch, an idea that Valentina’s is smart enough to call her out on eventually. As for Valentina’s photography? She just takes pictures of her hot friends with their tata’s out wearing goofy outfits. I mean that’s cool. Everybody loves boobs. But I don’t know anything about fashion or photography so let’s get back to the lesbian under and overtones.

Baba Yaga gives Valentina a blond baby doll wearing a sadomasochist leather get-up. Never does anyone question out loud what the deal is with the outfit the dolls wearing. You can guess correctly that she ends up taking photos of it that when developed show a sexy woman posing. Valentina shows up at Baby Yaga’s house to question this and ends of being hypnotized by the witch. This leads her into a submissive role as the real life S&M Barbie gives her the old Passion of the Christ whipping. She musters up enough 60’s feminist will power to fight the dominators off right as Arno (I really hate that name) shows up to rescue her.

Forgot to mention Valentina has weird dreams throughout the movie, some very surreal, some a bit zany. They don’t make sense to me nor do I think they are supposed to but they do reinforce the message to Valentina that something weird is going on. The one that stands out the most is the opening scene where Valentina and her Native American/socialist friends cut the penis off of a rapist pilgrim (off screen) and burn an American flag. A biker with an American flag helmet and some cops arrive to violently break the scene up and declare violence to all those seeking to create violence.

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This is about the strongest political statement made in the film. Beyond this you mostly just hear the characters make jokes about their intellectual friends that are into politics instead of having any real political discussion. This film would be a lot weirder if these sequences didn’t cut into Valentina waking up in her bed, and instead were meant to be taken as reality. That alone would have taken the film someplace else.

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The selling point on this film for many would be the lesbian and S&M themes. If that’s your thing though you’ll be disappointed as it doesn’t deliver, what little related footage is shown is not worth the time invested. If you’re looking for an introduction into Eurotrash psychedelic artsy fartsy films, I wouldn’t recommend this. If that’s something you’re already into then give this film a shot. Preferably at 3 a.m. when your half sleep mind can level with this half asleep film.


One comment

  1. The Baba Yaga (it translates roughly as “Granny Agnes”) is part of Polish folklore too. My grandfather is Polish and he said that children in his time were often threatened with the Baba Yaga if they misbehaved.


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