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  • This is the story of a girl, Martha, whose brother, Mai, possesses a unique gift, he can find buried treasures. But it makes him very ill, and Martha prefers to live in poverty rather than make her little brother suffer. However, not everybody is just as concerned about Mai's wellbeing, and one Christmas, Mai is kidnapped. Martha decides to search for her brother, and her story begins. On the way, she meets a genius inventor, Orlando, and they travel together meeting various people, and most of these encounters threaten disaster to Martha and Orlando.

    This is, indeed, a dark fantasy. Yet it is extremely, breath-takingly poignant and poetic. It has a great score by Alfred Shnitke, and the music heightens the emotional impact of the film. I was a child when the film came out, and I was utterly captivated. Yes, it is scary, but the poignancy of the film far outweighed the scary bits for me. Even though it is essentially a fantasy film, the characters are more complex than in most "real life" dramas. They are sometimes likable, sometimes exasperating, and always human (that does not include the Plague who does make an unforgettable impression, not for the faint of heart for sure). An excellent film overall.
  • "Skazka Stranstviy" is the story of a young brave girl Martha and her search for the lost little brother Mai who possessed a gift (or a curse) of finding the buried treasures and who was kidnapped by the villains many years ago. On her long search, Martha becomes friends with a poet, visionary, and genius inventor Orlando, and together they would visit many dangerous places and encounter disasters and miracles including plague, betrayal, fears, loyalty, courage, flying, hope, and death...

    I have not seen this wonderful movie for almost twenty years but my dear friend sent me last night the links to some scenes that feature the soaring score by incomparable Alfred Schnitke and watching them for over and over took me back in time to the world that has gone but always stays with me - the world of memory. I was surprised how well I remember "Skazka Stranstviy". I even remember how I watched it for the first time in the Moscow Theater, and how unusual, dark, scary, philosophical yet uplifting it was. Its look reminds the paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Hieronymus Bosch at their gloomiest and grimmest. Its spirit is not always optimistic or suited for young children but Tale of the Voyages is dramatic, intense, even tragic but always poetic, moving, and spiritual - not unlike Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the voyages, "The Snow Queen". Alfred Schnitke's truly breathtaking score gives the movie the unique appeal by taking you so far and high above the earth that not even the "highest-flying birds of memory" and regrets could reach you.

    I read from the other reviews that that this skazka is not a regular fairy tale - it depends on what we call a fairy tale. If you think of them, fairy tales, the unabridged versions of them are often scary, graphic, disturbing, violent, bloody, gory, and fascinating. Brothers Grimm's, Hans Christian Anderson's, Oscar Wilde's fairy tales, myths and legends of ancient Greece - there are elements of pure horror and tragedy in these fairly tales. "Skazka Stranstviy" reminds more of these classics rather than their Disney's adaptations, and that makes it unforgettable watching (and sound) experience that the viewers remember many years after they saw it and want to compare their impressions as adults with those from their childhood.

    Andrei Mironov (Orlando) proved once again what huge talent he possessed and how much he could've done had he not died untimely at the age of 46 in 1987.
  • One reviewer said that you won't want to watch this film twice, because it is so dark. And she was right. Ironically, over the summers of '83-84, this movie was shown CONSTANTLY at my camp, which was located in New York for all Soviet kids. I guess because we had so few Soviet films in our library. And yes, the scene with the "chuma" -- plague -- I had to watch, through my fingers -- more than once. This movie was so horrifyingly scary for a child, so dark and unbelievable that I would have rather watched "Hellraiser" at that age. No joke. Yes, the special effects are silly, but they're beside the point. From the scene in which Marta's brother is kidnapped (absolutely chilling) to the journey through the dark plague-ridden land (really, beyond words) and many other scenes, the film never ever lets you off the hook. There are some light moments, but darkness is never far behind. The plot, however, makes sense, psychedelic as it is. It is like a fantasy realism. I haven't seen it in its entirety since I was a kid, and I wonder if I should just leave it that way...
  • The film follows two orphans, a sister and her younger brother, separated when the youngest is stolen for his magical ability to feel gold, something which at the same time tortures the young boy. The sister runs, looks, even sees him at a distance, but her struggles only continues. Luckily she gets aide from a philosopher and healer, who in many ways serves as the film's main comic relief, but his journey is not a happy one either.

    From the very beginning, as the camera closed in on the town, as the music played, as the colors exploded, I knew I would love this film. Almost every frame was perfect, and they drew up the magical world we are visiting in the most perfect way imaginable. This is a beautifully dark and twisted fairytale, in the way only Eastern Europeans can make them. It created it's own world with an amazing eye for details, and managed to be absurd and funny, at the same time as it told a very, very bleak story. It could be described as an odyssey, a tragic chase, a voyage into strange lands, and visions we will see.

    And beyond it all, there is color. Nearly every image seems perfectly crafted. The full glory of soviet cinematography. It was so masterly directed and shot I bookmarked all films directed by Aleksandr Mitta, and even looked into other films by the cinematographer, Valeri Shuvalov. Two names I had never heard of before. This was a truly amazing discovery, and I can't wait to search out more.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I first saw "Skazka Stranstviy" in my early teens. Loved it but waited almost ten years to see it again. The film is brilliant, and invokes a lot of emotions and thoughts. Until I was adult it was too dark and too deep to comprehend and deal with. I definitely wouldn't recommend showing it to children. But for adults it's a must see. Every time I've seen it I've ended up crying through most of the film. Especially touching are the part where Orlando dies, and the end when Mai draws the diagram in the ruins. While dark and disturbing, the film provokes thoughts and emotions that modern films fail to touch. Like one reviewer mentioned it's a true classic fairytale. Not a Utopian fairytale we're used to in United states, but a true dark fantasy. The score is wonderful and adds on to the overall mood of the film. While the whole film is dark and gloomy, the end is very beautiful and hopeful.

    At the time I first saw it, I just became a sister. So for me, at the time the plot and the story were particularly real and threatening. I wouldn't let my baby brother out of my sight after seeing the film. I could understand what Martha was feeling when she lost her brother, and the end of the film provoked thoughts on what I would feel if my brother grew up to be an individual I wouldn't be proud of. Even with all the fantasy involved, the film is really easy to connect to.
  • crocuta11 August 2003
    This movie is supposed to be a fairytale. Is not. I saw it some years ago and I tell you: it's really dark, dark fantasy. The plague, personalized as a female beggar or beautiful lady brought me several nightmares. Well, this movie is really good! But don't allow your children watch it!
  • I have not much more to add to the reviews - this movie gets a 10 from me. This flight episode, together with Tarkovsky's flight episodes from "Andrei Rublev" (opening) and "Solaris" (closing) is IMHO the most moving and inspiring moment in film history.

    A small remark for the former Soviet citizens among you;-)

    Has anyone also felt some well-concealed allusions to the life behind the Iron Certain as much as I did in the episode with Don Quixote and the knights on top of the dragon?

    Just like in a "communist" system, for many it was actually quite warm and sweet while for some it was not quite as easy to get out as it was to get in (most likely the same could be said about a "capitalist" system too though). I think such allegories were quite common in Soviet movies and it is often a sport to find and interpret them.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ...but not for young children. A deeply philosophical movie about reasons to live for and meaningful life, dressed as a fairytale for children. It was broadcast as one in my country, and unfortunately became one of the most often-mentioned movie on the "scariest TV-experience of my childhood"-lists. No wonder: although not explicitly shown, it has immolated dead and sick people, a very well-created fire-spitting dragon, human sacrifice, inquisition, the "Santa" kidnaps the brother of the main heroine (may trigger future fear from Santa!) and an implied rape of the female lead toward the not a family movie when you have young kids, no. But it's great for teens and adults.
  • starpeople11 February 2006
    A good movie but certainly not suitable for children. Some episodes can give nightmares even to a grown-up. More of that, though "The Story of the Voyages" is sort of a magic tale, it has some complicated psychological themes in it that only an adult can comprehend. It's a weird movie to say the least, filled with strange images that seem to have come from a hallucination of some kind. But it's still very, very good. The acting in this movie is superb. Andrey Mironov playing Orlando is one of the best Soviet actors, that's all one needs to say. And Tatiana Aksiyuta is very touching and believable as Martha, the girl in search for her little brother. The atmosphere is dark, haunting and heartbreaking, filled with hope that shines through despair.

    I can think only of one movie that "The Story of the Voyages" resembles me: "The Labyrinth" with David Bowie. They are alike in some ways, I think. Probably because of the dark and bizarre atmosphere and psychological implication. But "The Story of the Voyages" is much, much more grim and dark. This movie is unique, so it's worth watching at least for that. Though you probably wouldn't want to re-watch it for a long time after.