The Day the Earth Froze (1959)

(a.k.a. SAMPO)
Article #578 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 10-14-2002
Posting date: 3-9-2003

An evil witch kidnaps the sister of a blacksmith to force him to forge for her a magical mill called a Sampo.

When this Russian adaptation of a Finnish fairy tale was brought to the United States, it was retitled THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE and marketed as a straight horror movie. I can see the logic behind this; they were probably correct in assuming that it would probably make more money being marketed that way, as I think the audience for the movie as it stands was probably very small. Certainly, it is a very un-Hollywood type of movie; rather than the prettiness that we would expect from Hollywood, we have instead a rather rough-hewn and somewhat rugged beauty. It would also have been considered rather slow-moving by today’s standards, but it does possess a goodly amount of magic for those willing to allow the movie to work its charms. It helps to realize that it takes place in a very different time than ours; the Sampo is a mill that produces gold, flour and salt, and if one puts oneself in a time where flour and salt were just as valuable as gold, it helps. The unfortunate thing is, of course, that many of those who might have been attracted to the movie were kept away by its ad campaign, and those expecting a horror movie were disappointed. Go in knowing that it’s a fairy-tale, and you’ll enjoy it much more.

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