The Day the Earth Froze (1959)

Urho Somersalmi, Anna Orochko, Ivan Voronov, Andris Oshin,
Based on Finnish mythology, this movie traces the exploits of Lemmink?inen as he woos the fair Annikki and battles the evil witch Louhi. Louhi kidnaps Annikki to compel her brother to build for her a Sampo, a magical device that c...
  • 4.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Viktor Vitkovich, Grigori Yagdfeld, Väinö Kaukonen, Elias Lönnrot, Writer:
  • Aleksandr Ptushko, Director:
  • G. Kusnetsov, Producer:


1 / 10

You can't judge this film by its American version...

In the 1960s, some idiots bought this Finnish-Soviet production and brought it to the screen. The problem is that the plot involving a Finnish folk tale was confusing to Western audiences, so the film was chopped to pieces--and almost 30% of the original film was thrown on the cutting room floor. As a result, it's very dull and confusing--and not worth your time. There is LOTS of narration to fill in the gaps but the film never is interesting or coherent. HOWEVER, I am not maligning the original film--just this terrible dubbed mess seen in the States.

While bastardizing a movie like this seems odd today, American-International did this a lot--buying up Russian and Japanese films and creatively editing them into American films. Sometimes they inserted down-on-their-luck actors into the films (such as Basil Rathbone) and I sure would rather see the original movie--which MIGHT actually be pretty good. But, in the 60s, they rarely trusted foreign subtitled films--and sloppily dubbed them. Sad...and stupid.

8 / 10

Another beautiful Ptushko film spoilt by bad, unnecessary American dubbing

Like with Sadko/The Magic Voyage of Sinbad and Ilya Muromets/The Sword and the Dragon, Sampo (or The Day the Earth Froze for its American version) is an Aleksandr Ptushko film spoilt by bad dubbing that wasn't even necessary in the first place. The American version is incoherent and unbearably goofy, but the original Soviet-Finnish film is just lovely and it is this version that I'll be talking about now. Maybe the dialogue doesn't always flow and the middle's pacing is on the stoic side. However, it is a beautiful-looking film, the costumes and sets are in equal measure beautiful and eerie, the film is nicely shot with techniques that scream of Ptushko(and in a good way) and the special effects are simple but awe-inspriring and some are wonderfully weird. The music score positively sweeps, with the fantasy-adventure themes and folk-song-like melodies wholly appropriate. The story is also simple, but coherent and mostly attention-grabbing, giving us time to breathe and admire everything. While the tone is on the most part suitably eerie and profound, there are also some nice oddball touches that don't feel out of place(if there was anything at all like that it certainly wasn't as bad as it was in its American version). The characters are very like the characters that you'll find in a fantasy/fairy-tale and they are engaging. There seems to be a mixed reception on the Witch here, depends on the version seen I think, she is irritating in the dub but in Ptushko's original she is very sinister. The acting is solid and fitting for their characters. All in all, a lovely film but sadly it has a really bad dub that because of MST3K more people will be familiar with. 8/10 Bethany Cox

9 / 10

A misrepresented Russian classic

Warning! The original version of "Sampo" lasts over 90 minutes, and is a beautiful, atmospheric and awe-inspiring retelling of the Finnish legend of the Sampo, from their national epic, "The Kalevala". In many ways it was the great director Alexander Ptushko's most ambitious film: the idea of the Sampo itself goes far beyond the search for a mere object, touching on the mainsprings of desire and humanity's questing spirit (in much the same way as does the Holy Grail in Arthurian literature).

Sadly, the American release as "The Day the Earth Froze" more or less destroyed the director's structure, his epic time scale, and the sense of mystery to the plot itself, sacrificing everything subtle in a brainless attempt to turn the film into helter-skelter action and swashbuckling excitement. Almost one third of the original film disappeared, and much of the rest was barbarically recut.

The result is a travesty - please, if you watch and rightly condemn "The Day the Earth Froze", do not confuse this farago with the beautiful and profound original film which is (or was) "Sampo"!

10 / 10

Bear with me here...

This is a smashingly well-made epic about a Finnish mythological tale. I found the movie via MST3K (which I love!) and even with their joshing in the background the whole time and the terrible dubbing, I could tell this is an incredibly well-done film. In addition, I wouldn't expect most Americans to understand this, but as someone with Scandinavian ancestry who loves mythology of every culture, these kinds of stories are really tough to grok and appreciate. What seems hokey to glib folks from the 20th & 21st century US with no appreciation for culture or history is actually fascinating to people who give a hoot about something other than themselves / being flippant jerks.

The cinematography of this film is absolutely outstanding. The musical score is Oscar-worthy. (John Williams himself would kill to write a soundtrack this good.) The acting is a bit over the top, but *it all was when this came out.* The filming locations are gorgeous, and fitting for the scope of the plot. The sets are remarkable for the time and the costuming is amazing.

Bottom line, this is a ***really*** great movie and anyone who thinks otherwise wasn't paying attention. I'd give my eye teeth to get my hands on the original, undubbed version.

5 / 10


My only exposure to Sampo (aka The Day the Earth Froze) comes by way of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I have an extensive collection of MST3K movies (almost 200) and of those the Russo-Finnish movies (Sampo, The Sword and Dragon, Jack Frost, et al) are among my favorites. They lend themselves to Mystification but are entertaining and, (dare I say it?) absorbing in and of themselves. They contain a quaint charm and stark moral values and despite their quirkiness, are entertaining. In a day and age in which we find serial killer 'good guys' and ambiguous moral lessons the old Russo-Finnish fairy tales are the preferred entertainment for this century's jaded child. This review is not about The Day the Earth Froze SPECIFICALLY but is merely a comment on the simple moral tales of the good-old-days. R.I.P.