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Animation / The Mystery of the Third Planet

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A 1981 film (Тайна третьей планеты in Russian), produced by the famous Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow and based on The Voyage of Alice by Kir Bulychev. Stars the voice of Olga Gromova, the first person ever to play Alisa.

In it, Alisa and her father Professor Seleznyov and his friend the Captain travel all over space in the 22nd century, searching for rare animals to bring back to the Moscow zoo. Through their intergalactic travels they pick up increasingly bizarre creatures and eventually become tangled into a criminal conspiracy involving a talking bird. That's about all there is to get plot-wise – most of the time's focused on the surreal, psychedelic Peter Max-inspired world.

Two English versions were released; one oddly enough with Kirsten Dunst as the voice of Alisa, and the other released as Baryshnikov's collection of "favorite stories". Also there is an English fansub on YouTube. Two NES games were released.

Tropes related to the film:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Some aliens are more human-looking than in the books.
    • Gromozeka still has several arms, but at least he has two legs instead of three, two eyes instead of several rows of many small ones, and doesn't have a trunk.
    • While Glot's real form looks pretty hideous, it's not even close to his book counterpart's terrifying, scorpion-like Eldritch Abomination shape.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the book, skleesses are native to Sheshineru. In the movie, the Sheshineru plotline is gone, and skleesses are found on Bluk instead.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The pirates don't attempt to erase Bluk's entire atmosphere, nor do they torture one of the characters continuously for four years.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Just like in the book, the pirates are after the formula of the absolute fuel. In the book, it’s explained that the absolute fuel is a type of fuel that makes spaceships a hundred times faster; the Third Captain brings it from another galaxy after becoming the first Milky Way resident to travel there, and he only shares its formula with the Second Captain before both are captured by the pirates. However, in the movie, it’s all omitted (and the Third Captain is Adapted Out completely), so it’s left unclear what the absolute fuel even is and why only the Second Captain knows the formula.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • The First Captain's name is Vsevolod in the book, here he is called Buran.
    • Rat from the planet Krokrys becomes Glot from the planet Katruk.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Downplayed. The bad guys are butt-ugly (especially after Glot loses his mask) while the main protagonists are ordinary-looking and the Space Captains are downright handsome. At the same time, Gromozeka is a very ugly good guy — although his looks are more funny than scary.
  • Big Eater: Gromozeka devours an entire roast chicken in one bite.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: An LSD box on spider legs, a balloon man, birds that can fly in space and multiarmed Gromozeka.
    • Gromozeka drinks valerian extract in large quantities (possibly a Justified Trope due to his size).
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Jolly U gets downright offended when Kim refers to him as a bandit
    We're not bandits! We're noble pirates.
  • Canon Foreigner: Basov isn't in the source material.
  • The Captain: Captains Kim and Buran. Zelyony would be as well, hadn't he been such an Eeyore.
  • Carrying a Cake: Kolya's grandmother wants the crew to deliver a "little" cake to Aldebaran. The cake is about the size of an arm chair.
    Zelyony: And that's called a little cake?
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Characters effortlessly hop between star systems, the Govorun birds and Gromozeka don't even need ships.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Gromozeka flies in brandishing a weapon in each of his six arms, including a sword and a laser submachine-gun. It's a shame he's too late.
  • Composite Character: Captain Zelyony combines the roles of both Captain Poloskov and Zelyony the mechanic from the original.
  • Con Man: Played With. At the animal market there is an Ushan selling invisible fish. Professor Seleznyov thinks its a scam, but Alisa believes him and he gives her an invisibility hat. It works.
  • Convection Shmonvection: When Jolly U's blaster melts in his hand do to a well aimed shot from Kim he merely shakes the molten metal off his hand like its a minor nuisance.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Glot poses as Doctor Verkhovtsev and is pursued by the Ushans for destroying the govorun birds.
  • Cyanide Pill: Subverted Glot chomps down on one when his cover is blown. However, Jolly U informs the crew that he's faking.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Selesnyov much prefers to be called "Professor" rather than "Captain", because he isn't. He's the head of the expedition and calls the shots, but he doesn't command their ship.
  • Dramatic Unmask: "Come on imposter, show us your true face!"
  • The Eeyore: Captain Zelyony, who has since became a quintessential pessimist in Russian SF.
  • Emotional Bruiser: Gromozeka gets offended easily, and is quite disappointed when his rescue comes too late.
  • Genocide Survivor: The villains attempt to kill a particular bird by exterminating its entire species. The bird they are after seems to be the only survivor.
  • Gentle Giant: Gromozeka is one of the greatest guys you'd ever meet. In both senses of the word.
  • Hat of Power: Alisa gets an invisibility hat from an Ushan selling invisible fish.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: When two robots intercept Seleznyov and Alisa on their way from the ship Basov walks around the corner and surprises the assailants from behind. The robots turn around and fire their blasters, missing at point blank range. A Justified Trope, since the robots were remote-controlled and the operator may have been legitimately surprised by Basov.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Captain Kim is able to melt the bad guys' blasters out of their hands with well-aimed shots.
  • Latex Perfection: How Glot impersonates Dr. Verkhovtsev throughout the film.
  • Lighter and Softer: Many of the book's disturbing moments (the pirates' attempt to erase the atmosphere of Bluk, the four-year torture, clinical death and graphically-depicted heart massage of the Third Captain, and Sheshineru being a planet of hopeless drug addicts) are absent in the movie.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Remote-controlled robots toting blasters dressed in black Space Clothes.
  • Mistook the Dominant Lifeform: Happens to Professor Selesnyov at an interstellar animal market. He approaches a humanoid shape made of floating orbs to ask him how much the bird he is selling costs... only for the bird to state that she is the one selling the creature.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Gromozeka wields a weapon in each arm when he quite literally swoops in in to rescue the crew at the end.
  • Mythology Gag: In the books it is stated that "the govorun bird is not known for its mind and intelligence", in the movie the bird states "the govorun bird is known for its mind and intelligence".
  • No Kill like Overkill: Gromozeka flies in at the end wielding a sabre, an axe, a mauser, and a laser submachine-gun.
  • Pint-Sized Kid: Alisa. Either she's too short for her age of eight years, or both Zelyony and Professor Seleznyov are as tall as NBA players.
    • Most likely, Seleznyov is unusually tall, since he bumps his head on a doorframe through which Zelyony walks through normally.
  • Plucky Girl: Alisa, certainly.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The cartoon takes a great liberty with the original novel, but that's to be expected – Soviet animation was never intended to make feature films and even miniseries were a rarity, so they had to heavily compress the original material. In particular, the Wacky Wayside Tribe stories such as the adventure on Sheshineru are removed.
  • Scenery Porn: The third planet is beautiful with lush greenery, alien plants, alien formations, and purple mountain ranges.
  • Seadog Beard: Captain Zelyony sports a great one.
  • Shout-Out: Elements from the Garden of Earthly Delights can be seen in the scenery of the third planet.
  • Space Pirates: The stock villains of many Kir Bulychev stories.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The pirates lured Kim on the Third Planet by sending a distress signal.


Video Example(s):


The Third Planet

Alice, her father, and Zelyony follow the chatterer bird through the beautiful, luscious forests of the Third Planet, their path ending at a meadow of mirror flowers.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SceneryPorn

Media sources: