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A Brief Glance At Russia's 1956 Fantasy, ILYA MUROMETS (1 Viewer)

Dick

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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.

Rick S
 

Konstantinos

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jayembee

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So, all I needed to see was that Craig Rogers and Dennis Bartok of Cinelicious and Arbelos were behind this. They do fantastic work. But I did look at their restoration trailers, and they look amazing. I'll be seeking these out.
 

Ed Lachmann

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I'm a great fan of Ilya Muromets so was overjoyed when Deaf Crocodile announced this blu-ray release as I already had the old Ruscico DVD. Recently another of Alexander Ptushko's "fairytale" epics, Sampo, was given the Deaf Crocodile HD treatment. This one had also been released in the USA as The Day the Earth Froze.

https://vinegarsyndrome.com/collections/deaf-crocodile/products/sampo-deaf-crocodile

Another Ptushko fairytale epic, Sadko, had a USA release as The Magic Voyage of Sinbad. Perhaps Deaf Crocodile has some sort of deal with either Mosfilm or Ruscico. Wonder if Sadko or some of the other wonderful Ptushko classics may be forthcoming from them, titles like The Tale of Tsar Saltan. Ruslan and Ludmilla or the absolutely gorgeous Scarlet Sails. His films bring out a romantic almost childlike joy in me and I will be excited to see any of them in the future. Thank you Deaf Crocodile for these two anyway!
 

lark144

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mark gross
I remember seeing this at a kiddie matinee when I was a child. This restoration sounds exciting. Thanks for the heads up!
 

Gerani53

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Both SAMPO and ILYA are essentials, and the Blu-rays are magnificent. Dick, you're clearly a '60s NY kid, who grew up with MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE. MOVIE OF THE WEEK (it took me half my life to learn that the theme for this movie show was Leroy Anderson's compelling "Phantom Regiment"), SUPER ADVENTURE THEATER (Saturday mornings, and they always seemed to be running ONE MILLION B.C.), and SUPERNATURAL THEATRE in 1963, where I saw FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, THE WOLF MAN, and THE MUMMY for the first time. WOR-TV Channel 9 was really into the dubbed Italian muscleman epics, pretty much offering the whole Steve Reeves catalogue (HERCULES, HERCULES UNCHAINED, MORGAN THE PIRATE, THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD, etc.). I saw most of these theatrically... SWORD AND THE DRAGON played the Loew's Oriental (I'd experience GORGO there a short while later), and BAGHDAD, a very popular movie with my friends, was also shown in that Brooklyn venue. How cool is it to have these childhood goodies looking exactly as they should (BAGHDAD is also available in original, pristine form). All this, and the joys of OLED too...
 

johnmcmasters

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I wanted to thank you all for this thread. For some reason these releases passed me by, so I've rectified that with an order from the Vinegar Syndrome site. I love these films, and have them on DVD, along with a bunch of other Russian films, from the Ruscico label. Really looking forward to the upgrade! I wonder if they'll eventually get to a personal favorite of mine: "Ruslan and Ludmila"?
 

Ed Lachmann

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Both SAMPO and ILYA are essentials, and the Blu-rays are magnificent. Dick, you're clearly a '60s NY kid, who grew up with MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE. MOVIE OF THE WEEK (it took me half my life to learn that the theme for this movie show was Leroy Anderson's compelling "Phantom Regiment"), SUPER ADVENTURE THEATER (Saturday mornings, and they always seemed to be running ONE MILLION B.C.), and SUPERNATURAL THEATRE in 1963, where I saw FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, THE WOLF MAN, and THE MUMMY for the first time. WOR-TV Channel 9 was really into the dubbed Italian muscleman epics, pretty much offering the whole Steve Reeves catalogue (HERCULES, HERCULES UNCHAINED, MORGAN THE PIRATE, THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD, etc.). I saw most of these theatrically... SWORD AND THE DRAGON played the Loew's Oriental (I'd experience GORGO there a short while later), and BAGHDAD, a very popular movie with my friends, was also shown in that Brooklyn venue. How cool is it to have these childhood goodies looking exactly as they should (BAGHDAD is also available in original, pristine form). All this, and the joys of OLED too...
Saw all of the above and loved them all at Saturday matinees at the Fox Theater in Stevens Point, Wisconsin in "the day".
 

lark144

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mark gross
I'm waiting for their upcoming sale next week! Sampo is on my list.
According to an email I just received from Vinegar Syndrome, their partner label Blu-Rays released before June 2022 will be 50% off on Black Friday. SAMPO was released in August 2022 & ILYA MUROMETS was released in June 2022, so I don't think they will apply.
 

jayembee

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According to an email I just received from Vinegar Syndrome, their partner label Blu-Rays released before June 2022 will be 50% off on Black Friday. SAMPO was released in August 2022 & ILYA MUROMETS was released in June 2022, so I don't think they will apply.
Yeah, it looks like the only two Deaf Croc titles that will be in the 50% off deal are their first two releases (The Unknown Man of Shandigor and Delta Space Misson).
 

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