DEAF CROCODILE BLU RAY RELEASE: The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1967)

Deaf Crocodile Films, in association with distribution partner Seagull Films and with restoration from the original camera negative by Mosfilm Studio, has created a new restoration of famed Russian fantasy filmmaker Aleksandr Ptushko’s Skazka O Tsare Saltane.

Adapted from the Alexander Pushkin fairy tale, this movie is beyond gorgeous.

Driven from the Russian court by her evil sisters while Tsar Saltan (Vladimir Andreyev) is at war with cannibal trolls, Tsarina (Larisa Golubkina) and her infant son Prince Gvidon are tossed in a cask and launched into stormy seas. Somehow, her son (Oleg Vidov) has grown to adulthood and helps them to make it to an island where he falls in love with a human swan — a wereswan? — princess (Kseniya Ryabinkina) while dreaming of seeing his father again. So he asks the swan to transform him into an insect so he may spy on the evil sisters and learn how he and his mother can finally return to their home.

This is a movie filled with sheer magic, like a town trapped in time that must be rescued, monstrous sea giants, lion statues that come to life and a singing squirrel that is a puppet that will warm even the coldest  of hearts. The fact that this movie is now coming out in the U.S. and can be streamed and purchased on blu ray is the kind of miracle that shows that we are truly in the golden age of physical media.

Deaf Crocodile has already released two other Ptushko films, Ilya Muromets (The Sword & the Dragon) and Sampo (The Day the Earth Froze). They’ve described his work as a combination of Walt Disney, Ray Harryhausen and Mario Bava, which sounds too fantastic but I can assure you is completely true. If you’re wondering if you’ve heard of this creative force, he co-wrote Viy.

You can get The Tale of Tsar Saltan from Deaf Crocodile. It features a newhour-long video interview with legendary visual effects artist and film historian Robert Skotak on Aleksandr Ptushko and the history of Soviet fantastika filmmaking, moderated by Dennis Bartok of Deaf Crocodile Films, a new commentary track by comics artist (Swamp Thing), film historian and author Stephen R. Bissette, a new essay by film historian and professor Peter Rollberg (Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema) and box art by Tony Stella.

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