Review: ‘The Tale of Fedot, The Shooter’

This exceedingly broad adaptation of a stage play will be very much an acquired taste. For non-aficionados of the very specific style of Russian theatrical culture on display, the adventures of the charmless Fedot (Konstantin Vorobev) will prove highly resistible, and the film itself (imagine a Russian "Li'l Abner" without the songs or the charm) an endurance test.

This exceedingly broad adaptation of a stage play will be very much an acquired taste. For non-aficionados of the very specific style of Russian theatrical culture on display, the adventures of the charmless Fedot (Konstantin Vorobev) will prove highly resistible, and the film itself (imagine a Russian “Li’l Abner” without the songs or the charm) an endurance test.

At some unspecified time in the past, the Tsar, awaiting a visit from foreign ambassadors, orders Fedot to find game for a royal feast. Instead, he finds a woman in the woods who is half bird (some smart makeup here), and she along with three relatives who are also bird-women, move in with him. The presence of this strange beauty in Fedot’s home sparks the jealousy of the Tsar’s daughter, who also fancies him. The dialogue is spoken in rhyming couplets, the acting style makes the thesping in Sennett comedies look models of sophistication, the political jokes are simplistic and the relentless, and extremely unfunny, slapstick gets tiresome after the first couple of minutes. Production values are merely functional.

The Tale of Fedot, The Shooter

Russia

Production

A CTB Film Co./NP Orpak production. (International sales: Intercinema Art Agency, Moscow.) Produced by Sergei Seljanov. Directed, written by Sergei Ovcarov, based on the verse play by Leonid Filatov.

Crew

Camera (color), Ivan Bagaev; editor, Olga Amosova; music, Igor Macievsky; production designer, Pavel Novikov; costume designer, Natalia Zamachina. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 13, 2002. Original title: Skaz pro Fedota-strel'ca. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Konstantin Vorobev, Andrei Mjagov, Vladimir Gostjuchin, Olga Volkova, Olga Paskova.

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