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Furs on Film – Baba Yaga (1973)

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The concept of Baba Yaga has been mentioned in everything from John Wick to DnD. One might argue that is the power of good myth, but I’m going to argue that’s the power of the public domain. If the real Baba Yaga does show up one day, she’ll bring along many lawyers.

Baba Yaga – The Film

This interpretation is based on a story from the Guido Crepax comic, Valentina. The backstory of that comic is interesting enough as it is. The story follows photographer Valentina Rosselli who encounters a mysterious woman who calls herself Baba Yaga. Well, “almost gets hit by her car” qualifies as an “encounter.” After this little meet-cute, Baba seems “very interested” in Valentina because 70s movies love a predatory lesbian tale. Important to note and visible in the opening credits that the costume designers took their inspiration from the comic, which features Valentina in furs.

Baba Yaga – The Fur

Baba Yaga does us the courtesy of front-loading with the biggest, best bit of fur fashion: this cape. Valentina (Isabelle De Funès) is dropped off by her boyfriend and decides to go for a walk at night.

I believe I have a partially restored film cut (check the Wikipedia entry for the deets on that) that includes: more walking around in silver fox. Cinematically, I may understand the reasoning, but one simply does not leave fox on the cutting room floor.

She narrowly avoids being hit by a car while saving a random dog from the same fate. The driver, Baba Yaga (Carroll Baker), insists she drives Valentina home. This is the tricky part, Yaga is wearing a fur collar, but it’s almost impossible to see in the night lighting. At no point does it really show up well in this entire sequence.

The next day, Valentina is doing her fashion photography day job and provides a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of either a lynx-dyed fox or a belly lynx coat as Annette (Ely Galleani) arrives for a shoot. Annette is a bit of a fur tease in the film; she does this twice.

The Yaganatrix returns with something she took from Valentina last night, a garter clip. She’s wearing the same outfit. The fur still doesn’t read well even in a brightly lit room, but you can at least get a better idea that there is fur. Still not sure what it is.

Next up, we have this jacket which appears to be something called maihamster. Honestly, it doesn’t do much for me, but if you like it, it’s got a decent amount of screen time as Valentina visits her boyfriend on a movie set.

Annette pops back in later with great-coat-no-screen-time #2. There is a slightly better shot of this coat than this closeup, but it includes George Eastman mostly naked in bed, and I can’t subject the internet to that.

Valentina checks out Baba’s pad in a coat we’ll see her wearing later… at the same location. Something tells me a little bit of movie-making magic was involved. This looks like mouton to me, best guess, at least.

Some more short fur appearances litter the film. Here is another one of Valentina’s models wearing white rabbit fur.

Here’s a stole that shows up on yet another film set with her boyfriend. Again, very quick shot.

Plot-wise, Baba Yaga is causing Valentina to have some strange dreams, and one of them affords us the final confirmation about Yaga’s outfit. The blindingly natural light on a beach affords a clear view of the fur collar. The fur at the bottom? That’s a cat; move along.

Finally, Valentina returns to Yaga’s abode in the same fur she wore earlier. I’m not saying they shot all those scenes at the same time, just that they shot all those secnes at the same time. Mouton fans rejoice, you get a lot of mileage out of this.

This one just misses joining the impressive “20%” club, so it’s probably worth tracking down, especially if your taste in fur is somewhat cosmopolitan. There’s a lot of variety here, with a decent amount of the fox that is our personal favorite. It’s really more of a thriller than a horror movie if you’re concerned about that. It’s not graphic, though if you need to know what boobs look like, this movie will help. 

Fur Runtime: approx 16 minutes
Film Runtime: 86 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 19%

Find-a-Fur: Baba Yaga, 1973

(all times are approximate and are affected by the cut of the film)

*Baba Yaga’s “default” outfit.
**Valentina’s coat.

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