Tainstvenny Ostrov (1941)

TAINSTVENNY OSTROV (1941)
aka Mysterious Island
Article 3067 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-30-2009
Posting Date: 1-6-2009
Directed by Eduard Penslin
Featuring A. Krasnopolsky, Pavel Kiyansky, A. Andriyenko-Zemskov
Country: Soviet Union
What is is: Jules Verne adventure story adaptation with science fiction elements

Some civil war prisoners make an escape in a hot-air balloon and end up on a deserted island, but mysterious events lead them to believe they are not alone on the island…

I really shouldn’t be surprised to discover that the Soviet Union did an adaptation of this novel, but I am anyway. I know the reason for this; Jules Verne has always struck me as being a distinctly American author, which is of course incorrect – he was French. Nonetheless, I always sensed an American air to his work, and the fact that the protagonists of this story are Americans underscores this. I’d have to say at this point that this may be the most faithful version of the Verne story I’ve seen to date; it is bereft of many of the additional fantastic touches (undersea creatures, giant chickens, miniskirt-wearing Venusians) that have popped up in the other adaptations I’ve seen. Granted, it’s not totally faithful; it’s been a while since I’ve read the novel, but I don’t remember any youngsters being along, and I’m also suspicious about the domesticated ape subplot. Furthermore, since my print is in unsubtitled Russian, I have no idea what the characters are actually saying, and I wouldn’t be surprised were I to discover that the story had been politicized to reflect a more Soviet way of thinking. Nevertheless, this looks like a solid version of the story, and the final scenes (in which we find out why it’s a sequel to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”) are quite memorable.

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