Senior HTF Member
- May 22, 1999
- Real Name
This film is a very old friend of mine. In poorly-dubbed and shortened form this was released to t.v. as THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON. Million Dollar Movie (WOR, Channel 9 in New York) ran sixteen showings in one week, and I probably watched seven or eight of them! It was then brought back on WOR a year or so later as a Movie of the Week, where it ran an additional once per day for a week and I probably watched it another five times. I was totally hooked.
As I grew older and began reading monster magazines, I began to learn that I had perhaps not been seeing the whole movie on t.v. As a teenager who began reading film books, I later discovered that I hadn't been able to view it fully at all. Not only in terms of its length, but of its aspect ratio, which was 2.00:1, and was originally released (in Russia) at 92 minutes (cut on t.v. by roughly 14 minutes), and with a 4-track stereo soundtrack. It was the country's very first color and widescreen (Sovoscope) release, and a lot of money was lavished upon it, especially the large cast (Mosfilm claimed 110,000 and thousands of horses), special practical effects, and the wonderful sets. There is a really lovely music underscore, which I cannot find on CD.
Finally...finally...we now have it looking quite spectacular, although not flawless. The colors are most often bright and saturated. Black levels look pleasing. There is not any visible grain 7 feet back from my 65" LG OLED. There are two or three minutes early-on, during one of the half-dozen fairly pleasant songs, when the image loses it sharpness. I was afraid this might continue for the duration, but it snapped back once the song ended.
The soundtrack is stereo although I couldn't hear any more than the front channels in terms of discreet output. I wish there was an English dub option, only because I think it would make the film more palatable for children, who will enjoy the rather cool wind demon and some of the swordplay, as well as the dragon, which only shows up in the final seven minutes and is pretty clunky when compared to our contemporary film dragons. It's a fantasy based on a legendary Russian folk hero. The movie has an option of viewing it with subtitles or, if you are fluent in Russian, without them.
The supplements are a restoration trailer and a very interesting commentary.
The film in English and panned-and-scanned is still floating around out there, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 did an episode of it. But this is the one to have, if you, like me have fond childhood memories of it, but want to see it look comparatively awesome.