Ubisoft presents...
Amphibian Man
Amphibian Man

Chelovek-Amfibiya
Sponsored by: Z Télé
star New 35mm print!

Russia
1961 | 95 min | 35mm
Russian language, English subtitles

Screening Times

July 19th, 2007
5:00 pm
J.A. De Seve
July 23rd, 2007
3:00 pm
J.A. De Seve

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Description

A Latin American fishing community is being terrorized by what the townsfolk refer to as a “sea devil.” The creature in question –- dressed in a shimmering silver body suit and oddly shaped headpiece -– is not a monster but Ichtyander, son of Dr. Salvatore, whose radical shark-gill transplant to cure a fatal lung disease left Ichtyander with the ability to swim underwater for long periods. With his son a prototype, Dr. Salvatore now harbors utopian plans of building a “classless” underwater society. While Dr. Salvatore dreams of idealistic Socialist solutions to human poverty, Ichtyander yearns for human contact after being smitten by a beautiful young woman he saved from drowning. Ichtyander secretly slips out one night to visit the coastal town in search of this woman, Gutiere, only to sadly learn that she is being groomed by her father to marry a man she does not love, the wealthy pearl king, Don Pedro. Once Don Pedro discovers Ichtyander’s identity, he conspires to have him and his father arrested so he can blackmail Ichytander into mining the ocean of its rich pearls. Ichtyander’s imprisonment in a water tank is jeopardizing his ability to co-exist on land and water. Meanwhile a sympathetic journalist friend of Dr. Salvatore, Olsen, plots a daring rescue plan.

The Amphibian Man is one of the most unusual films to come out of the Soviet Union, a tragic love story that is equal parts Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Little Mermaid. It is a particular revelation when seen within its historical context –- the “thaw” period (1957-1962) marked by such serious Socialist Realist anti-war classics as The Ballad of a Soldier, The Cranes are Flying and Ivan’s Childhood. Although the film has clear elements of Communist propaganda –- epitomized ideologically by the demonization of the capitalist Don Pedro -– it is also a wondrous fantasy filled with charm, enchantment and imagination. This latter quality is particularly evident during the many impressive underwater scenes and the scenes of Ichtyander’s first-ever contact with society, where the town’s neon signs, architecture and quotidian activities are given a slightly surreal patina, to reflect Ichtyander’s sense of amazement and newfound freedom. One can only speculate whether the joy Ichtyander experiences over the temporary freedom from his father’s protective control is a veiled critique of the Soviet Union’s Communist state.

—Donato Totaro

Notes

New 35mm print!

Credits

Director: Vladimir Chebotaryov, Gennadi Kazansky
Screenplay: Akiba Golburt, Aleksei Kapler, Aleksandr Ksenofontov, from Aleksandr Belyayev
Cast: Vladimir Korenev Anastasiya Vertinskaya Mikhail Kozakov A. Smiranin Nikolai Simonov
Distributor: Seagull Films

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