Screen: Soviet Fantasy; Second Kinopanorama Film at the Mayfair
By Bosley Crowther July 22, 1959
THE Russians are nothing if not candid in the format they have applied in their second Kinopanorama picture, “The Enchanted Mirror,” which opened at the Mayfair yesterday. They are offering their wide-screen views of giant dams, hydroelectric plants and other wonders of man and nature in various regions of Sovietland as modern realizations of ancient fairy tales. “This is a documentary fantasy,” a narrator says (in English) at the start.And that it is, beyond question—a documentary in most of its mammoth views of frozen wastes in the Arctic (where the cameras first visit a weather station), of bulldozers knocking down trees to build a huge dam in the Siberian taiga, of vast wheat fields in the Ukraine; but fantastic in the corny-cute way it introduces its parts with fairy-tale cartoons and also in the brazenness and buncombe of the narrator’s propaganda pitch.Much more of a Communist tub thumper than was the first Kinopanorama offering, “Great Is My Country,” which it succeeds, this ninety-minute scenic-culture picture is in the more familiar Soviet travelogue groove.”Miraculous transformations do not occur in fairy tales alone,” says the stereophonic narrator as we get some knockout views of the Bratsk Hydroelectric Station in Siberia, where “people suffered under the Czars, for our sake.””The harvest was fourteen times bigger at this Golden Grain cooperative farm than last year,” he says, repeating a boast we’ve been hearing for twenty years in various odes to the tractor out of Russia. Wonder what the harvest was twenty years ago?And, in a section shot in China, in and around Peiping, the red flag-waving, while probably quite authentic, is chauvinistic to the point of being crude. Thousands of what are obviously coolie laborers hand build a giant earthen dam, while the glories of a “people’s project” are happily and musically extolled.There are bits of this big conglomeration that are wonderful, withal—close shots of clanging troikas (those racy three-horse sleds) dashing in wild confusion along a sparkling, snow-packed road; scenes of Galina Ulanova and a troupe from the Bolshoi Ballet doing several passages from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”; the Ukrainian singer, Galina Oleinichenko, giving out beautifully with song, backed up by an orchestra of maybe a hundred violins, violas and harps.While the technical quality of this picture is no better than that of the last (the three panels on the giant screen lack color synchronization and the match lines still do not match), the over-all effects of the huge pictures are overpowering, as Cinerama and CineMiracle are.And we found the last line quite amusing: “The real fairy tale is still to come.”
The Program THE ENCHANTED MIRROR, a Russian-made documentary and travelogue in the Kinopanorama wide-screen process, directed and written by L. Kristi and J. Komissarjevsky; produced by the Central Studio for Documentary Films; a Sovexportfilm release. At the Mayfair, Seventh Avenue and Forty-seventh Street. Running time: ninety minutes.
Выпущен на экран 24 января 1959 года. Премьера в московском панорамном кинотеатре «Мир».
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