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.