director Aleksandr Rou
I only learned about Russian Fantastika films a couple years back from stumbling on Scumbalina’s Atomic Caravan. So far all of the Fantastika movies I’ve seen have been by Aleksandr Rou, so I don’t know that I have a full perspective yet. But what I do have is a fantastic love for the stuff.
Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors and The Golden Horns (1972) were my holy grails, probably because they’re the films that Scumbalina discussed in her blog. So when seeing it available on Amazon Prime along with a handful of others, I was totally thrilled. I was also jazzed to see that since I last wrote about Aleksandr Rou, someone has added movie posters for his films to Wikipedia.
The information on the Soviet director is pretty sparse, and even on the specific subgenre is also hard to find (at least in English). I crave to know more. Overall, though, these are fairy tale films, peppered with ideology I suppose, but really not that different from American or other European fantasy films. It’s the aesthetics that are quite sublime. I’m a pushover for matte paintings and some of these are amazing.
As many have noted, stepping through the mirror, little Olya is not unlike a little Soviet era Alice. Only she’s in the Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors which distort everything. She finds her mirror double in Aylo (real life sisters Olga and Tatyana Yukina) and they encounter a strange world of backwards names and animal people, and a boy named Dneirf who is whipped and imprisoned for not cooperating with the manufacture of more crooked mirrors.
For my money, I enjoyed it. I actually liked the nasty attitude of little Olya before she learned her lesson. There was an interesting point at the opening when she and a lot of other little kids were peeking in on a movie (a drive-in?), the most modern thing I’ve seen in any of Rou’s films. But also for my money, my favorite film so far was Vasilisa the Beautiful (1939), one of his much earlier films, the only one I’ve seen in black-and-white.