Tale of the Siberian Land

Politically orthodox to its fingertips but with an invigorating energy and optimism found in many late-'40s Soviet pics (from musicals like "Spring" to romancers like "The Train Goes East"), musical comedy "Tale of the Siberian Land" follows a war-decorated pianist (Vladimir Druzhnikov) who quits his Moscow conservatory and returns to his roots in the taiga, where he composes a soaring orchestral cantata in a snowbound hut. He's pursued by a blond soprano (Marina Ladynina) from Moscow and a Siberian waitress (Vera Vasileva), both of whom have suitors attached.

With:
With: Vladimir Druzhnikov, Marina Ladynina, Boris Andreyev, Vera Vasileva, Sergei Kalinin.

Politically orthodox to its fingertips but with an invigorating energy and optimism found in many late-’40s Soviet pics (from musicals like “Spring” to romancers like “The Train Goes East”), musical comedy “Tale of the Siberian Land” follows a war-decorated pianist (Vladimir Druzhnikov) who quits his Moscow conservatory and returns to his roots in the taiga, where he composes a soaring orchestral cantata in a snowbound hut. He’s pursued by a blond soprano (Marina Ladynina) from Moscow and a Siberian waitress (Vera Vasileva), both of whom have suitors attached.

Though entirely different in setting and tunes, pic has the same reconstructivist energy and can-do qualities as a U.S. postwar musical like “On the Town,” with deftly etched ensemble playing and splashy color lensing. Helmer Ivan Pyriev, a master of popular fluff (though capable of a more serious musical, such as “At 6 p.m. After the War”), directs briskly and fluidly, effectively juggling all the characters as relationships work themselves out. Aside from the stiff Druzhnikov, the cast is delightful. Two years later, Pyriev re-teamed with sparky Ladynina in another “ethnic” musical extravaganza, “The Cossacks of Kuban.”

Tale of the Siberian Land

Soviet Union -- 1948

Production: A Mosfilm production. Directed by Ivan Pyriev. Screenplay, Evgeni Pomeshchikov, Nikolai Rozhkov.

Crew: Camera (color), Valentin Pavlov; editor, A. Kulganek; music, Nikolai Kryukov; songs, Evgeni Dolmatovsky; art directors, A. Berger, B. Chebotarev, K. Urbetis. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Soviet retro), Aug. 10, 2000. Running time: 114 MIN.

With: With: Vladimir Druzhnikov, Marina Ladynina, Boris Andreyev, Vera Vasileva, Sergei Kalinin.

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