Mistress Holle

(Frau Holle)

GDR, 1963, 57 min, color
In German; no subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


The widow has an ugly and lazy daughter, Pechmarie, and a beautiful and hard-working step-daughter, Goldmarie.  Poor Goldmarie must sit and spin all day by the well until her fingers bleed.  When she tries to rinse out her spindel, it drops into the cold water. Her unsympathetic step-mother tells her to jump in after it. 


Goldmarie wakes up the land of Mistress Holle, who welcomes the girl and invites her to stay, as long as she will help with the housework.  Marie serves Mistress Holle gladly until she begins to suffer from homesickness. In exchange for her hard work, Mistress Holle rewards Marie with a shower of gold. After Goldmarie returns, her greedy stepsister also travels to Mistress Holle, but her laziness earns her a very different sort of reward.


The sparse but colorful set makes provides a more fairy-tale-like setting than the more complicated special effects of the 1980s;  the opening credits, printed on the pages of a picture book, intensify the reference. Indeed, much of the set seems to be made of paper and paper mache! While the visual effects and songs draw in younger viewers, the focus on every-day activities, as well as Marie's industriousness, make the film’s moral clear. Cheerfully received by critics, and presumably most popular with the youngest viewers, this version of Frau Holle is a colorful and loyal interpretation of the Grimms' original.


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