Deaf Crocodile/Vinegar Syndrome
1959 / 2:35:1 / 91 Min.
Starring Anna Orochko, Andris Ošiņš, Eve Kivi
Written by Väinö Kaukonen, Viktor Vitkovich, Grigori Yagdfeld
Directed by Aleksandr Ptushko
Mosfilm’s Sampo, a Russian fantasy from 1959, and Paramount’s White Christmas, a Yuletide bauble released in 1954, were both state of the art products of a big studio system. But each were Cold War entertainments driven by very different agendas: White Christmas was a gung ho military musical prettified by candy canes, VistaVision and Technicolor. Sampo was a movie out of time—a gravely beautiful folktale set in a bone-chilling winter wasteland. In short, America ladled on the optimism while Russia served up existential dread with a little popcorn on the side.
Mosfilm, aka “Russian Hollywood”, was a monolithic entity with the combined creative juice of MGM, Universal, and Paramount under one roof—established in 1920, the studio was a dream factory