Lviv Tales

Lejeune (Лежень) is a Ukrainian animated short film released in 2013. It is based on a fairy tale by beloved Ukrainian and Soviet writer Yuriy Vynnychuk (Юрій Винничук), and is part of his Lviv Tales (Львівські казки) collection.

Vynnychuk was a Soviet/Ukrainian writer who, unusually for the time, wrote only in Ukrainian. His works include poetry collections as well as collections of Ukrainian fairy tales and folklore. He’s still writing today, and in 2015 drew international praise for his latest novel, Pharmacist (Аптекар). Though he is from Stanislav (present-day Ivano-Frankivsk), he moved to Lviv in 1974 and has written a number of local guides and histories of Lviv—Legends of Lviv (Легенди Львова, 1999–2003); Cafés of Lviv (Кнайпи Львова, 2000–2001); and Secrets of Lviv Coffee (Таємниці львівської кави, 2001). Lviv is known as the cultural center of western Ukraine.

Lejeune is part of Ukraine’s small tradition of patriotic animated films aimed at teaching children about their nation’s history and folklore. It was created by Ukranimafilm (Укранімафільм), the Soviet and now Ukrainian animation studio whose driving force is its love of country. Lejeune was funded in part by Ukraine’s state film agency, reinforcing its state-approved message. It is about 10 minutes long and was directed by Lyusya Tkachikova (Люся Ткачикова).

The film itself tells a short story about a king and his servants who live in the fortress of Lviv. Evil forces are trying to throw them out of the castle, so they call on the housekeeper’s grandson, nicknamed Lejeune, for help. In exchange, he’s promised the hand in marriage of the king’s daughter, who is known for cooking delicious vareniki. Besides telling a story, the cartoon also shows off the beauty and uniqueness of western Ukraine, including its architecture and traditional dress.


Director: Lyusya Tkachikova (Люся Ткачикова)
Studio: Ukranimafilm (Укранімафільм)


Watch Lejeune:

Julie 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.