Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 29, 2021


Andreyev and Myshkova
THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON/aka Ilya Muromets/1956). Director: Aleksandr Ptushko. 

Ilya Muromet (Boris Andreyev) is a Russian peasant who is dismayed that due to injuries that prevent him from walking, he can not fight against the tyranny of the evil Tsar Kalin (Shukur Burkhanov). This changes when he is healed by a passing stranger and given a sword that used to belong to a great hero of old. Ilya meets his beloved, Vasilisa (Ninel Myshkova) and the two are married. In a misunderstanding with Prince Vanda (Andrei Abrikosov), Ilya winds up put in a dungeon even as his wife is spirited away by the Cossack-like Kalin. As years pass, Vasilia resists Kalin's advances but he does turn her and Ilya's little boy, Falcon, into his "son" and one of his best warriors. Freed from captivity, Ilya not only has to face his own son in combat, but also must face a gigantic, three-headed, fire-breathing dragon unleashed by Kalin.

son against father in mortal combat
While it may not be as much fun as American fantasy flicks of this nature, The Sword and the Dragon is a notable film from Russia with some outstanding widescreen cinematography (Yuli Kun; Fyodor Provorov), which helps provide sweeping vistas and elaborately staged battle scenes. It has an excellent story taken from Russian folklore and a fine score by Igor Morozov. The Sword and the Dragon is not really a kid's film -- there's a scene when four men are impaled on one spear -- although it has some fantastical elements. The dragon is a silly-looking full-scale prop that looks like something out of a funhouse. One amazing scene has Kalin ordering his followers to climb on top of one another in the hundreds to create a "mountain of men." And we mustn't forget the obese envoy who comes to town giving orders from Kalin and ultimately regrets it. 

Verdict: Quite interesting Russian fantasy film is definitely worth a look. ***. 


angelman66 said...

Costumes and production design seem lush, but no stars I recognise...not even an Anne Baxter or a Hedy Lamarr down on her luck? If it shows up on YouTube or TV, I will give it a whirl!
- C

William said...

Unless Anne and Hedy wanted to fly to the Soviet Union to make movies, they would definitely not have been cast in this, more's the pity! I think this is currently on youtube in a not-bad print.