Based on the folkloric "novel in verse" by Pushkin that also inspired an opera by Mikhail Glinka (with ballet sequences by Michel Fokine) and two earlier Russian films, Alexandr Ptushko's Ruslan and Lyudmila follows the epic trials of a knight whose new bride is stolen on their wedding night by a wizard.
Having defeated the brutal Pechenegs, Ruslan (Valeri Kozinets) returns to Kiev and is granted the hand of beautiful Princess Lyudmila (Natalya Petrova) by her delighted father, Prince Vladimir (Andrei Abrikosov). Three conspicuously unhappy faces mar the banquet celebrating the happy couple's nuptials: Lyudmila's rejected suitors Rogdai (Oleg Mokshantsev), who has political ambitions; Ratmir (Ruslan Akhmetov), a relentless ladies man; and Farlaf (Vyacheslav Nevinnyj), a gluttonous oaf. Ruslan and Lyudmila retire to their bedchamber, but the blushing bride is suddenly snatched away by some malevolent being. Ruslan appeals to Vladimir for help, but the distraught father annuls the marriage and offers Lyudmila's hand to the man brave enough to bring her back. Rogdai, Ratmir and Farlaf instantly volunteer. Heartsick, Ruslan also rides off in pursuit of his purloined bride, and soon learns from a hermit known as "The Finn" (Igor Yasulovich) that she was taken by the dwarf wizard Tchernomor (Vladimir Fyodorov). The hermit also reveals that Tchernomor is aided by a vindictive witch named Naina (Mariya Kapnist), whom the Finn once wooed and won through sorcery, much to his subsequent regret. As the other suitors are derailed by their own weaknesses, Ruslan forges on towards Tchernomor's enchanted castle, where plucky Lyudmila is resisting the wizard's advances. Along the way, Ruslan encounters the giant head of Tchernomor's brother (Viktor Shulgin), whom the diminiative wizard murdered and decapitated in a fit of jealousy; the head reveals that Tchernomor's strength lies in his extravagent beard. Armed with this information, Ruslan rescues Lyudmila. But his trials aren't over: Lyudmila has been cast into an enchanted sleep, Rogdai is conspiring with the Pechenegs, and Farlaf is lying in wait, hoping to claim the princess for his own.
The final film of Russian fantasist Alexandr Ptushko, who died at the age of 72 shortly after its release, Ruslan and Lyudmila was originally released in two parts. It contains some truly spectacular images, along with some rather goofy ones; while the set design recalls the epic films of Max Reinhardt, the antics of Tchernomor and his wicked consorts are worthy of a Sid and Marty Krofft program.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1972
- Rating: NR
- Review: Based on the folkloric "novel in verse" by Pushkin that also inspired an opera by Mikhail Glinka (with ballet sequences by Michel Fokine) and two earlier Russian films, Alexandr Ptushko's Ruslan and Lyudmila follows the epic trials of a knight whose new br… (more)