Maria, the Magic Weaver (1960)
Article 5508 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Aleksandr Rou
Featuring Mikhail Kuznetsov, Viktor Perevalov, Anatoli Kubatsky,
Country: Soviet Union
What it is: Fantasy
A wandering soldier with a magic drum helps a young boy whose mother has been abducted by a water wizard.
Over the years, I’ve grown to really enjoy watching children’s movies and fantasies from other countries; they have a way of capturing cultural differences while keeping the stories simple and fun. This one is extremely colorful, especially when we enter the underwater palace of the wizard and meet his bizarre minions, including a gaggle of pirates and a frog-turned-more-or-less-human. My favorite scene is truly surreal; while the heroes make their escape with the rescued mother, the villains are incapacitated by a psaltery whose music forces them all to dance. There’s a real sense of magic to this one, and it’s a joy to watch. I look forward to seeing more from Rou, whose oeuvre includes a movie that was featured on MST3K, JACK FROST.