The Sword and the Dragon (1956)


The Sword and the Dragon Storyline

Ilya is a cripple without the use of his legs. When he aids some weary travellers, they surprise him by giving him a potion that restores his legs. He immediately becomes powerful and sets off to prove himself to his King. Doing so, he fights the evil Tugars, a wind demon that looks like a cross between a goblin and The Noid, a zeppelin-like ambassador, and the evil Tugars. Ilya gets framed for a crime he didn’t commit, then is freed, then finally dispatches the Tugars and their dragon.—Jonah Falcon

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The Sword and the Dragon Movie Reviews

Good Fun

I remember seeing this film on the “Million Dollar Movie” on channel 9 {in the New York area} in the early 60s and I also had the Dell comic book adaptation.As a child it was impressive and it still holds up today.Basically its the story of the legendary Ilya Murometz{the Russian Giant}and his attempt to rid his land of the invading Tugars-in reality Mongols-who had their name changed for this film.The film features beautiful color photography, some massive battle scenes set against an Eisenstein like darkening sky, decent special effects like the Wind Demon, the Pig Man , the three headed fire dragon and some musical numbers too,including a sexy belly dancer at the Tugar’s camp-adolescent fantasy material! .There probably is a pro Soviet message, but due to the fall of the Soviet Union it is no longer relevant.The acting which has often been criticized is actually pretty good on its own level, its just the English dubbing that somewhat works against it.An early example of the medieval themed “sword and sorcery” genre that became briefly popular in the 80s with films like “Excalibur” and “Conan the Barbarian”, this one is entertaining, well produced and has an overall sense of innocence and wonder about it that is hard to resist. It may not be perfect, but it does what it has to do very well. Give it a shot. You might enjoy it.

Great Soviet fantasy that borders on the ridiculous

The story of Ilja Muromets requires severe suspension disbelief. Even in the weirdly dubbed American version it plays as a pro-workers film. There is a political message not so hidden here, but you can ignore it rather easily.

The plot is very innocent with a lame hero becoming healed and so that he can go off and fight the invading Mongols. Its grand fantasy with semi-special effects that are wonderfully of the period, and fit the gentle style. (Gentle even with the huge battle scenes) The trick is to give yourself over to it ,on its terms, and you’ll have a great time. And yes its completely silly and over the top, despite seeming rather serious.

The director, Aleksandr Ptushko, specialized in fantasies of this sort. I think this is the best, with the other films like Ruslan and Ludmila, or Sadko (The Magic Voyage of Sinbad) or Sampo (The Day the Earth Froze) suffering from pacing problems, despite having fantastic visuals. (indeed Sampo is so dull as to put on into a deep coma) If you like this film then try Ruslan or Sadko.

If you click into this you’ll love it. Since I do I give it 10 out of 10. Your mileage may vary, even as you laugh your ass off at at it.

Unique and in a good way

Having really enjoyed all of what I’ve seen of Alexandr Ptushko’s films so far(my favourites being Stone Flower and The Tale of Tsar Sultan), I knew that I would want to see Ilya Muromets, or The Epic Hero and the Beast/Sword and the Dragon. And this was despite the fact that it got dubbed and the MST3K treatment. If you saw the dubbed version, like with Sadko(The Magic Voyages of Sinbad) and Sampo(The Day the Earth Froze)- though not as badly affected- you’d think that Ilya Muromets was cheesy, over-the-top and senseless. But actually in my opinion, like with those other two films, if seen in its Russian version it is a beautiful and fun fantasy film that is easy to see why the gushing reviewers were captivated by it so much in childhood. I can understand why people will find that the actors over-act, I consider the acting quite noble and in keeping with the film’s style and that the dub makes things too overly-broad. In terms of the film’s titles also, the most fitting is the Russian one Ilya Muromets, the English ones are rather misleading in comparison. Even today Ilya Muromets looks really good, the cinematography is sweeping and the costumes and sets are gorgeous and colourful to watch. The special effects to me hold up pretty well, some better than others(the wind demon for example is much better designed than the dragon), with a really endearing charm to them. The music score is heroic and rousing, lyrical and beautiful, not once does it jar with any scene. The story is enthralling, there is a real sense of adventure that is sometimes wonderfully surreal but always thrilling yet there is a strong Russian folk-tale feel about it. Plus unlike its dub it’s actually coherent. Ptusko does a splendid job directing, he never allows the film to be dull and just looking at it alone you can tell it’s a Ptushko film. In conclusion, a very good and beautiful film and a fantasy unlike any other. While it is the least badly affected of the Ptushko films dubbed and MST3K-treated, it is deserving of a much better chance, deservedly the dubs are torn to shreds but it’s not always remembered that the original Russian versions are really good films. 8/10 Bethany Cox