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The witch Louhi forces the blacksmith Ilmarinen to build her a mill of never-ending wealth and food in exchange for the return of an abducted princess in Aleksandr Ptushko’s SAMPO.


a great deal of success and rec- ognition abroad, it was screened in America solely in a severely truncated version known as THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE (“The Most Chilling Terror Ever Experi- enced! Thousands Against a Dia- bolical Force From Another World!”), which American Interna- tional distributed for Renaissance Film Releasing in 1964 (“In Color and VistaScope!”), and which AIP later syndicated to television. (This is a similar but worse fate to what befell Ptushko’s earlier Ilya Muromets [1956, the first- ever film to be released in four- channel surround sound] in America, where it was denigrated for its US release through Valiant Films into a shorter, dubbed, monophonic version called THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON in 1960.) It is commonly assumed that the film was one of several Mosfilm titles whose US rights Roger Corman acquired in 1962- 63, while directing and producing films on the continent such films as THE YOUNG RACERS, DE- MENTIA 13 and OPERATION: TITIAN (aka PORTRAIT IN TER- ROR, which in turn became BLOOD BATH and TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE). Other titles


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acquired by Corman in that deal were Nebo Zovyot (1960) and Mechte Navstrechu (1963), which were incorporated into Curtis Harrington’s QUEEN OF BLOOD (1965); Planeta Bur (1962), which was incorporated into Curtis Harrington’s VOYAGE TO THE PREHISTORIC PLANET (1965) and Peter Bogdanovich’s VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF THE PREHISTORIC WOMEN (1968); and Ptushko’s Sadko (1953), which was rushed into re- lease as THE MAGIC VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1962) under the edito- rial supervision of Francis Ford Coppola.


All this history distorts the re- ality of what Sampo really was, or is—but, apparently, so do the inventions of its own publicity. According to Wikipedia, each scene in the script was shot a to- tal of four times, with the actors performing their roles in both Finnish and Russian and also al- lowing for the film to be shot in distinct standard and anamorphic versions. This DVD—sourced from a 4K digital restoration pro- duced last year at the Finnish National Audiovisual Institute— settles on the Finnish-language version, shot in the French


anamorphic process of Dyaliscope (2.35:1), but there is enough here to put the probable lie to the leg- end that the film was shot in two languages, as the dialogue here was dubbed in post-production. That said, the version known as THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE almost certainly originated from the Russian edition and appears to have been composed for stan- dard projection. Therefore, this DVD release presents a version of the film never before seen abroad for reasons above and beyond the American version’s added Marvin Miller narration and se- vere reduction to a 69m running time.


The story, set in the seaside village of Kalevala, concerns two young people, Lemminkäinen (Andris Oshin) and Anniki (Eve Kivi), and Anniki’s older brother, the blacksmith Ilmarinen (Ivan Voronov), whose skills are such that he is credited with hammer- ing out the blue bowl of the sky itself. The people of Kalevala are peaceful, contented and philo- sophical, but also impoverished. They plead with Ilmarinen to se- cure their future happiness by fashioning for them a Sampo, a mythic mill that will endlessly


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