DISNEY IN RUSSIA
The newest Disney film features a young hero, a villainous witch, a mermaid, a talking mirror, an army of stone warriors and a book of powerful magic. But, don’t try buying tickets at your local cinema anytime soon. This movie can only be seen in Russia.
“The Book of Masters”, released on October 29, 2009, is the first Walt Disney release produced in Russia by Disney’s CIS division. The film, directed and co-written by Vadim Sokolovsky, is based on stories adapted from Russian fairy tales and features heroes and villains that are familiar to Russian children.
In the story, an evil witch-princess lives in Neverland, and she dreams of becoming more powerful. To do this she needs the Book of Masters. Anyone who reads this book will control an incredible force, but only a man can retrieve this magical literature. In order to attain a “man” for the job the princess sends stone warriors led by Yanhul (Artur Smol’yaninov) into the village, where the warriors catch two children – Ivan, a simple village boy, and Klava, the daughter of a lord.
Watching the trailer – and not speaking more than two or three words in Russian – I was able to determine that the evil witch-princess owns a magic mirror that talks to her (sounds a lot like another evil queen we know!) and is clearly searching for a way to get more power. In one visually stunning clip, she creates an army out of rocks and stones. Ivan is obviously the hero of the film and in several scenes he appears to be learning magic from the Book of Masters, perhaps in order to defeat the evil witch.
If the trailer is any indication, this movie is full of Disney magic, colorful characters, danger, adventure, comedy, maybe a little romance and a strong cast. The cast of the movie includes many well-known and up-and-coming Russian actors. Selecting and using a complete cast of actors native to Russia is also a first for Disney and a very exciting facet of this film for Russians.
In its first weekend of release, the movie was shown in 750 locations and made $4.8 million, making it No. 1 in its territory (according to The Hollywood Reporter). Not too shabby for Disney’s first Russian release!
Contributed by: Traci C. (NDM#118). Traci (along with Kolin-NDI#34) is our resident Disney in Russia news correspondent and author of the Travels with Kids blog.