Deaf Crocodile Films, in association with distribution partner Seagull Films, is proud to announce the upcoming 4K restoration release on Blu-ray of famed fantasy filmmaker Aleksandr Ptushko’s visually stunning 1959 fantasy epic SAMPO (U.S. title: THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE) through partner label OCN-Vinegar Syndrome.
SAMPO (THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE), 1959, Finland/USSR, 91 min. Based on the Finnish national epic Kalevala, legendary director Aleksandr Ptushko’s ravishing, mystical fantasy tells the story of a sinister witch Louhi (Anna Orochko) who covets the Sampo, a magical, rainbow-colored mill that can produce endless salt, grain, and gold. When the hero Lemminkäinen (Andris Oshin) attempts to stop her, Louhi literally steals the sun, plunging the world into eternal darkness. A Finnish/Soviet co-production and shot like its predecessor, ILYA MUROMETS, in gorgeous CinemaScope, SAMPO features some of Ptushko’s most surreal and fantastical imagery: a glowing red horse plowing a field of vipers; a boat of fire with a stag’s head; a weeping mother literally walking across the sea to find her lost son. With its witch’s incantations and repeated scenes of forging magical items — “Give me fire for the furnace from the nave of the sky!” — there is an almost Macbeth-like occult force to the film. Released in the U.S. in a butchered version as THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE, SAMPO has been beautifully restored in 4K by Finland’s National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI) for its first-ever American release in its original Finnish-language Scope version by Deaf Crocodile. In Finnish with English subtitles.
“For many years Aleksandr Ptushko has been one of my favorite fantasy filmmakers,” says Dennis Bartok, Deaf Crocodile’s Co-Founder and Head of Distribution & Acquisitions. “Following the Blu-ray release of Ptushko’s ILYA MUROMETS in May, Craig and I are thrilled to be bringing another of his wondrous creations out in its original Finnish CinemaScope version, with our partners at Seagull Films and KAVI. And for fans of Ptushko’s work, stay tuned — we’ll have more Blu-ray news coming soon!”
“More Ptushko fantasy!” adds Craig Rogers, Deaf Crocodile’s Co-Founder and Head of Post-Production and Restoration. “Evil witch, wicked warlocks, magical roads, and weeping trees all in beautiful CinemaScope and the original surround sound mix! If you enjoyed ILYA MUROMETS, you’ll love SAMPO!”
* New 4K restoration of the Finnish-language version of SAMPO from the original
35mm CinemaScope picture elements and 4-track audio by The Finnish National Audiovisual Institute (KAVI), with additional digital restoration by Craig Rogers for Deaf Crocodile.
* New commentary track by comics artist (Swamp Thing), film historian, and author Stephen R. Bissette.
* Reprint of Pt. 2 of film scholar Alan Upchurch’s pioneering essay on Aleksandr Ptushko from “Video Watchdog” (Issue #9, Jan./Feb. 1992).
* New hour-long video interview with Mike Nelson, head writer and host of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and writer/performer of RiffTrax, covering his career and the highly-popular MST3K editions of Ptushko’s THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE (SAMPO) and THE SWORD & THE DRAGON (ILYA MUROMETS). Hosted by noted comics artist and novelist Bob Fingerman (Minimum Wage) and Dennis Bartok of Deaf Crocodile.
* Original Finnish-language trailer.
* New art by Tony Stella.