Amphibian Man

AMPHIBIAN MAN
(CHELOVEK-AMFIBIYA) 1961

Director: Vladimir Chebotaryov & Gennadi Kazansky

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Amphibian Man, based on a novel by Aleksandr Belyayev, is a Russian science fiction story with a fairy tale mood, set in a rather mythic city resembling a seaside village in Spain.

Amphibian ManA reclusive physician with a mansion on a hilltop has done an experimental operation on his son to save the boy from a lung disease, replacing the bad parts of his lung with tissue from shark gills. The result is a beautiful dewy-eyed young man (Vladimir Korenev as Ichtyandr) who can live on either land or sea.

His reclusive father (Nikolai Simonov) raises the boy to be naive & unaware of the dangers of the human world. When he chances to save the life of a drowning girl (Anastasiya Vertinskaya) & falls in love with her, he begins to interact in the corrupt city.

An evil pearl merchant with a devil beard wants to capture the amphibian boy & keep him as a pearl diving slave, & has the political connectons & wealth to out-maneuver the boy's eccentric father, making life hell for both of them.

How this story works itself out is naive & simple, aimed more at children than adults, with attempts at philosphic poignancy which may have been (at the Soviet communist time it was filmed) politically dangerous to expostulate.

The eccentric physician wants to create a whole new race of aquatic humans who can live in an underwater utopia free of human corruption. He won't listen when his rational friend, a revolutionary newspaper reporter (Vladlen Davydov), warns him human nature won't change & there will be the same problems below the sea as above. But the scientist realizes his error when the film's bad guy offers him & his son a chance at liberty & restoration if he will create a new army of sea-people to conquer the oceans for sake of wealth & power.

It's a charming & delightful fantasy despite its simplemindedness & its inability to convince, though if I were about ten years old I think I'd've bought it all hook line & sinker.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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