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Sadko (Russian: Садко) is a 1952 Russian fantasy film directed by Aleksandr Ptushko. The film is based on an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, which was based on a Russian bylina (epic tale) with the same name, and scored with Rimsky-Korsakov's music from the opera.

Sadko poster.jpg
Poster for Sadko
Directed byAleksandr Ptushko
Written byKonstantin Isayev
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (libretto from the opera Sadko)
StarringSergei Stolyarov
Alla Larionova
Yelena Myshkova
Music byNikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (music from the opera Sadko)
Vissarion Shebalin (arrangements and additional music)
CinematographyFyodor Provorov
Distributed byFilmgroup (US version)
Release date
1953 (original)
1962 (US version)
CountrySoviet Union

Plot summaryEdit

This tale is based upon the legends told of ancient times in the old Russian city of Novgorod (the capital of Novgorod republic). Novgorod's merchants are feasting in a gorgeous palace. A young gusli player named Sadko is bragging that he can bring to their land a sweet-voiced bird of happiness. The merchants mock him for his bravado, and tell him his quest is impossible. Nevertheless, Sadko sets off on a travel to bring the bird of happiness to Novgorod. He is offered help by the daughter of the Ocean King - she is mesmerized by Sadko's singing and is in love with him. Sadko visits many lands in his search of the bird, including India, Egypt and other countries. Sadko is unable to capture the bird of happiness, and returns empty handed. But on his return to Novgorod, Sadko realizes that there is no better land than his homeland, and there is no need to go far in search of one's happiness.


Sadko won the "Silver Lion" award at the Venice Film Festival in 1953, and festival judges included lead actor Sergei Stolyarov in a list of the world’s best actors in the 50-year history of film.

The Magic Voyage of SinbadEdit

Sadko was first shown in the USA in 1953 with English subtitles, distributed by Artkino Pictures Inc..

The film was re-released in the United States in 1962 in an English-dubbed and modified form by Roger Corman's Filmgroup under the title The Magic Voyage of Sinbad. It retains the plot structure of Sadko but includes several changes: the total running time is reduced from approximately 85 to 79 minutes (most of the deleted footage consists of scenes in which songs are performed, though one song is retained and sung in English), voice-over narration is added, the protagonist "Sadko" is renamed "Sinbad," and other characters and places are renamed to disguise the film's Russian origin and transform the film into a story about Sindbad the Sailor (perhaps most significantly, the city of Novgorod is renamed "Copasand"). The English dubbing in this version arguably gives the film a slightly "campier" tone than the original version, in which the dialogue has a more polished and "literate" tone. Cast and credits were also altered to made-up "American-sounding" names. The "Script Adaptor" for this version of the film, uncredited, was a young Francis Ford Coppola.

This version of the film was featured in Season 5, Episode #505 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1993, despite the fact that Kevin Murphy, voice of Tom Servo, has professed a love for the "breathtaking" visual style of this and other films by Aleksandr Ptushko in multiple interviews.[1][2] Paul Chaplin, another writer of the show, has also expressed admiration elsewhere, but not regrets for the mockery.

DVD releaseEdit

The original Russian version of Sadko is available on DVD from RusCiCo.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of the film was released on DVD as part of the 20th four-film box set of series episodes, through Shout! Factory on March 8, 2011. In some sets the DVD is mislabeled as the film Project Moonbase.

See alsoEdit


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