Deaf Crocodile Films, in association with distribution partner Seagull Films, is proud to announce they will release a new restoration of famed Russian fantasy filmmaker Aleksandr Ptushko’s gorgeous 1967 feature THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN (SKAZKA O TSARE SALTANE) in North America. Adapted from a beloved fairy tale in verse by author Alexander Pushkin, THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN has recently been restored from the original camera negative by Mosfilm Studio. The film will be released later this year.
Working together, Deaf Crocodile and Seagull Films have previously released two other classic Ptushko films, ILYA MUROMETS (THE SWORD & THE DRAGON, 1956) and SAMPO (THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE, 1959) in 2022. Ptushko began his career in the 1930s and went on to become a filmmaker reminiscent of a combination of Walt Disney, Ray Harryhausen, and Mario Bava for his dazzling, bejeweled fantasies including THE STONE FLOWER, SADKO, ILYA MUROMETS, SAMPO, and RUSLAN & LUDMILA.
“The Tale of Tsar Saltan is a spectacular creation by one of the world’s greatest fantasy filmmakers at the peak of his craft,” says Deaf Crocodile Films’ Co-Founder and Head of Distribution Dennis Bartok. “It was Ptushko’s next-to-last feature, and he would make only one last movie, RUSLAN & LUDMILA, in 1972. In some ways, it reminds me of the later films of directors like Ingmar Bergman in THE MAGIC FLUTE or Akira Kurosawa in RAN, where you can see their absolute mastery of every aspect of filmmaking, from production design to visual effects to cinematography and music. Ptushko clearly felt a deep kinship with the writing of Alexander Pushkin — in fact, Ptushko’s birth name was apparently ‘Ptushkin’ and he even claimed, half-jokingly, that that made them spiritually close in some ways!”
Says Craig Rogers, Deaf Crocodile’s Co-Founder and Head of Post-Production and Restoration: “Just as in our previous releases of Ilya Muromets and Sampo, The Tale of Tsar Saltan is filled with the truly imaginative practical effects that are a joy to see. Frozen time, giants walking out of the sea, and the magical growth of a small baby are just some of the amazing effects on display. Ptushko was a true master and I’m very glad our new blu-ray releases are helping to expose his genius to all-new viewers. “
Filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov (ZEROGRAD, THE ASSASSIN OF THE TSAR), who has served as Director General of Mosfilm since 1998, further comments, “For us today, restoration is more of a cultural action than a commercial matter. But I think that it is very important that the masterpieces of world cinema, the classics, are now in good quality — this in itself is very important for the preservation of this heritage.”
THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN (SKAZKA O TSARE SALTANE), 1967, Mosfilm, 85 min. Based on a famous fairy tale in verse by Alexander Pushkin, THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN is one of director Aleksandr Ptushko’s most sublime creations: a ravishingly beautiful fantasy about love, magic, betrayal, and abandoned family. Driven from the Russian court by her sisters’ scheming, the young Tsarina (Larisa Golubkina) is thrown into the sea in a cask with her infant son. Surviving the storm-tossed voyage, the mother and her now magically-adult son (Oleg Vidov) land on a remote island where he falls in love with a Swan Princess in human form (Kseniya Ryabinkina), and longs for reunion with his estranged father, Tsar Saltan (Vladimir Andreyev).
Like his earlier masterpieces SAMPO and ILYA MUROMETS, TSAR SALTAN is filled with breathtaking imagery: carved wooden lions who shed tears; peasants in pagan ritual masks, dancing in the snow; the treacherous faces of conspirators bathed in red candle glow like the witches in Macbeth. Ptushko’s second-to-last feature, TSAR SALTAN has been gorgeously restored by Mosfilm and Deaf Crocodile for its first-ever Blu-ray release in the U.S., co-presented with Seagull Films. In Russian with English subtitles
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