Monday, August 29, 2011

The Secret of the Snow Queen (1986)

Original Title: Tayna snezhnoy korolevy
Year Released: 1986
Country of Origin: Soviet Union
Run Time: 2 hours, 16 minutes.

How I Watched It: Youtube. In Russian and I mean Тайна Снежной Королевы Russian. No English subs.

Adaptation Accuracy: I don't speak Russian but I can if you'd like. OW! No, not really. Boy, oh boy. This one was Russian. So Russian. Have I mentioned it's Russian? Okay, this version entitled The Secret of the Snow Queen is a musical (yikes!) TV adaptation, aired in two parts. So far in this little retrospective, it is the longest version and holy shit, does it feel that way. FOURTEEN MUSICAL NUMBERS!!! ALL SUB-PAR!

Once again...much like the Finnish SQ ('86), the plot summary will be my interpretation. However, this version is much more talky and so most is lost to me. Also, lots of musical numbers are sprinkled here and there. I'll do my best to avoid them.

Sigh...let's go from the beginning, shall we? Well, there's this Author (Oleg Efremov) who introduces us to the Snow Queen (Alisa Frejndlikh) who lives in a ZANY palace filled with ice skaters who dance around to disco music. Through a TV (?) she spies on Kay (Yan Puzyrevsky, who is too young for me to think is cute, BTW) and Gerda (Nina Gomiashvili). The children appear to live alone. While Kay is never mean to Gerda, he seems disconnected, almost as if he is too old to be hanging out with her. Then the Snow Queen sucks him through her TV.

Before Gerda sets out on her journey the Author gives her a match to melt the Snow Queen, if need be, I guess. Finally, after 38 minutes, Gerda leaves. She meets one of the Snow Queen's toadies who melts and then becomes a stone wall (?) where flowers flourish and tell her nonsensical stories.

Gerda eventually escapes and meets who I think is "Mrs. Autumn" (Vija Artmane) according to the IMDb credits. They talk for a long time. Gerda is given a shawl and she continues into a castle where she talks to the King (Vladislav Strzhelchik) for a LONG TIME.

Meanwhile, the Snow Queen is corrupting Kay and dancing around. Gerda heads to a cottage of Robbers (?) whom she dances with. After Gerda spots the antlers of a dead reindeer she yells at the Snow Queen who appears. They fight as they're flying through the air and Gerda loses the match. (Oh shit!)

When Gerda arrives at the snow palace she sees a Snow Stepford version of herself. Kay seems much more interested in Stepford Gerda. But the real life girl wins by literally yanking Kay out of his stupor. The Author shows up with the match and Gerda melts the palace and the Snow Queen.

Overall Likes: Kay is cute (...and I'm a pedophile); Older Kay and Gerda; Gerda's reactions while others are singing; Flowers; Stepford Gerda; The Snow Queen sure is in it a lot.

Overall Dislikes: Musical; Author there too much; Snow Toadie; SLOW!!!; The King; Bette Davis Snow Queen.

Final Thoughts: Well, at least it's not as bad as Heathcliff. I can't judge this one too harshly. After all, it could be really, really well written. I mean, should someone who doesn't speak English pass judgement on a Shakespeare play?

However, basically everything from the original is cut: there is no witch (unless it's Mrs. Autumn), no princess or prince, no crow, no robber girl. They did get the least they got the flowers. The songs are godawful. And there is So. Much. Talking. The golden rule of fiction is Show Don't Tell but this movie has never heard of it. And it looks really crappy. Like it was made in the 1960's...but even the 1966 version looks better than this heap.

There I go judging harshly. It's only because I set myself up for disappointment. I thought this was one of those "lost versions" and when I found it to be available, my hopes went through the roof. Let that be a lesson to me. And I still have no idea what the Snow Queen's secret is.

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