Sadko | Chicago Reader

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Set in medieval Novgorod, a cradle of populism in early Russia, this 1952 fantasy by Alexander Ptushko chronicles the exploits of the eponymous minstrel as he outwits the city's greedy merchants and then sails the seven seas in search of the bird of happiness. The journey allows Ptushko to indulge his love of flamboyant set design and inventive optical tricks, effectively accompanied by the quasi-oriental music of Rimsky-Korsakov. Two sequences are particularly striking for what were then state-of-the-art special effects: Sadko's capture of a bird with a human head (which leads to a showdown with the army of a cruel maharaja) and his underwater respite in the realm of the ocean king. In Russian with subtitles. 90 min.

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