Sadko (Russian: Садко) is a 1953 Soviet adventure fantasy film directed by Aleksandr Ptushko and adapted by Konstantin Isayev, from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s eponymous opera, which was based on a Russian bylina (epic tale) with the same name. The music is Rimsky-Korsakov’s score.
The film saw release in the Soviet Union by Mosfilm in January 1953. It was distributed in the USA by Artkino Pictures Inc. with English subtitles later in 1953, and in 1962 was English-dubbed by Roger Corman‘s The Filmgroup Inc. and distributed as The Magic Voyage of Sinbad.
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 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 slightly 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 Sinbad 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.
color, mono, fullscreen, 78 minutes, dubbed in English. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!