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Sadko (1953)

 -  Adventure | Fantasy  -  1962 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.8/10 from 659 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 6 critic

Arriving home to find his native land under the yoke of corrupt merchants, an adventurer named Sadko sets sail in search of a mythical bird of happiness.


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Title: Sadko (1953)

Sadko (1953) on IMDb 4.8/10

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Complete credited cast:
Sergei Stolyarov ...
Alla Larionova ...
Ninel Myshkova ...
Princess of Lake Ilmen (as Y. Myshkova)
B. Surovtsev ...
Mikhail Troyanovsky ...
Nadir Malishevsky ...
Vyashta the Giant (as N. Malishevsky)
Nikolay Kryuchkov ...
Ivan Pereverzev ...
Yuri Leonidov ...
Lev Fenin ...
Varangian Leader (as L. Fenin)
Mikhail Astangov ...
Maharaja (as M. Astangov)
Lidiya Vertinskaya ...
The Phoenix (as L. Vertinskaya)
Stepan Kayukov ...
Olga Vikland ...
Neptuna (as O. Vikland)
Sergei Martinson ...
The Monk


An oddly Russian Sinbad seeks to bring happiness to his people - first by trying to give money and goods to the poor, then by seeking out the Blue Bird of Happiness. Written by Jonah Falcon <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Spectacular Scenes From The Greatest Adventure Story Ever Produced! See more »


Adventure | Fantasy


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Release Date:

1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Magic Voyage of Sinbad  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Spoofed as "The Magic Voyage of Sinbad" in Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988) episode #505, first aired August 14, 1993. See more »

Crazy Credits

(U.S. version) A Moss-Film Production (It was produced by Russia's Mosfilm studios) See more »

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User Reviews

The original Russian version is finally on DVD!
28 April 2005 | by (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

This is an update to my comment which I wrote on April 28, 2005: This film (the original Russian film) has been completely restored by Mosfilm and is available on DVD in North-America from the Ruscico label, in most major outlets. The film restoration is incredible, the colours are vibrant and not a single frame is missing from the original elements. Furthermore, the Rimsky-Korsakoff music has been re-recorded in stereo and the sound is in 5.1 Dolby with lots of atmospheric surround effects. It comes with many extras, including two interviews with Stolyarov's son, who is not too kind to Francis Ford Coppola. I knew there was a masterpiece under all that grime and that bad sound. It just needed a lot of work. It's just too bad the release of the original did not receive one fifth the publicity of the Coppola atrocity ("The Magic Voyage of Sinbad"). By the way, the illustration on the IMDb "Sadko" page is not of this Russian film but of the opera version of the same name.

This is my original comment of a year ago:

I first saw 'Sadko' on television in French-speaking Quebec barely four years after it had been honoured at the Venice Film Festival. I was six years old at the time and the film was in French and in black and white. In those days of the Cold War, the French had no compunction about distributing Russian films and translating them into French and Canadian television had no compunction about showing this one to the very impressionable children it was meant to be shown to. This film was Russia's attempt to create a children's colour classic that would be on a par with 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'The Thief of Bagdad'. I think they succeeded admirably even though there is no denying its profound 'russianness'. 'Sadko' is based on a Russian fairy-tale that also inspired the opera of the same name by Rimsky-Korsakoff and it incorporates the opera's ballets and melodies in its action. The acting is exemplary of the Romantic operatic tradition somewhat tempered by the more realistic method acting of Stanislavsky. The hero is the very prototype of the rugged yet sensitive and (extremely)handsome peasant-poet who wants to bring happiness to the people of his city despite the active opposition, greed and selfishness of the fat, rich merchant capitalists who run the city of Novgorod. To achieve this, he goes searching for the legendary 'bird of happiness' but only finds, after many adventures, an Indian 'bird of forgetfulness', religion being the opium of the people, as Marx would have commented. He eventually comes to the same conclusion Dorothy comes to, 'There's no place like home'. The only way Americans have ever seen this film, for the most part, is through the emasculated version called 'The Magic Voyage of Sinbad' which, for purely exploitative reasons, turned this art film intended as a goodwill gesture for the world's children into a commercial adventure film by robbing it of its context (Sinbad was substituted for Sadko and Arabia for Russia), of its moral (all political speeches were mollified), of its characters (the love story was truncated), of its poetry (through a very bad translation) and of most of its glorious establishing shots. The original runs for 85 minutes and the Russian songs, music and acting make even the 'octopus's garden' scene palatable for adults. I thought I would have to spend a lifetime retracing this film in order to relive a very precious childhood memory. It took me months just to find out what the film's Russian title was and years to get my hands on two very bad VHS copies of 'The Magic Voyage of Sinbad' which have been bootlegged from television and which are offered by quite a few American distributors of offbeat cinema. I would recommend to anybody who is seriously interested in getting to know this film to do what I did. I made inquiries in the Russian gift shops of my city (Toronto) and eventually found a Mosfilm-approved PAL-to-VHS transfer of the original in Russian only without subtitles. This is no great loss in itself as the images and the music speak for themselves and the Russian speeches have a charm all their own. The strangeness of watching a Russian film without subtitles is also very liable to recreate in the viewer the very sense of wonder which children were supposed to experience when they first see this film. Unfortunately, even this 'official' video version is a poor transfer (although infinitely better than the American bootlegs), especially lacking in definition and solid colour and its hi-fi soundtrack suffers from a continual hiss. It suggests that the original could probably use a major (and costly) restoration. But it also shows that this film can boast great direction, magnificent composition, photography and lighting, elaborate art direction, impressive handling of crowd scenes, great costumes, evocative special effects (the bird of forgetfulness is a particularly powerful and memorable image) and a general poetic tone that is its reason for being and the first casualty of its American 'adaptation'. Here's hoping that it makes its way to a decent DVD transfer one of these days, and, why not, even a Criterion edition.

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