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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Sadko (1953)

(aka: The Magic Voyage of Sinbad)



Reviews and Comments

Aleksandr Ptushko's Sadko is more or less a Russian take on The Thief of Baghdad. It is based on a Russian fairy tale, which was also the basis for a Rimsky-Korsakoff opera. The film is not an opera, or even a musical, but some of the Rimsky-Korsakoff music was adapted for the score. Save for some overacting that inexplicably feels wrong here even though the same kind of theatrics worked in the best versions of The Thief of Baghdad, this is an enjoyable and enchanting film, brimming with fantastic and memorable visuals.

The best way to see the film is the original Russian version, subtitled. A cropped, English-dubbed version was made in 1962, which, in spite of the fact that the script adaptor was none other than Francis Ford Coppola, removes key scenes and garbles the film's poetic eloquence. It was only in this English-dubbed version, by the way, that the main character's name became Sinbad: it was deemed that Sinbad was a more recognizable name to English speaking audiences than Sadko. While this is true, the result is a very Russian looking Arabia.