RUSLAN AND LUDMILA (RUSLAN I LYUDMILA), 1972, 159 min. Dir. Alexander Ptushko. A mad, enchanted combination of THE WIZARD OF OZ, DIE NIEBELUNGEN and THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T, this is quite possibly Ptushko's greatest masterpiece, an epic two-part fantasy packed with surreal, grotesque characters - a sorcerous midget with a 50-foot beard, a demonic, hunchbacked witch - and jaw-dropping set pieces such as the midget’s shimmering crystal palace, tormented figures chained inside a cavern, and a decapitated giant’s head rising up like a statue on Easter Island. Based on a poem by Pushkin, Ptushko’s final film as director follows the epic adventures of Ruslan (Valery Kosints) as he struggles to recover the feisty, resourceful bride (Natalia Petrova) kidnapped on their wedding night by the impish sorcerer Tchernomor.
COSMIC VOYAGE (KOSMICHESKIY REIS), 1936, 70 min. Dir. Vasili Zhuravlev. The first Soviet sci-fi movie since the spectacularly popular AELITA: QUEEN OF MARS in 1924, this effects-filled film tells the story of Pavel (Sergei Komarov, who also appeared in Pudovkin’s DESERTER and Barnet’s OUTSKIRTS), a renegade space traveler. His voyage to the moon - he’s fed up with the restrictions imposed by the "Moscow Institute for Interplanetary Travel" - offers a startlingly realistic technological prophecy. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a seminal space-travel theoretician, served as the production’s science consultant (he was also the author of the film’s source novel, Outside the Earth) and drew up more than 30 detailed blueprints for the "rocketplane" featured in the film. There may be a rocket named after Stalin, but the film still reeks of anti-doctrinal individualism, doubtlessly accounting for Ukrainian-born Soviet filmmaker Zhuravlev’s sporadic post-COSMIC VOYAGE output. Silent with Russian intertitles and English translation, with pre-recorded score.
Official Website: http://egyptiantheatre.com/archive1999/2006/RussianFantastik.htm
Added by kiracle on October 17, 2006