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Film / Ilya Muromets

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Ilya Muromets is a fantasy movie based upon the epic poems about a Russian epic hero. Released in 1956, the movie was a literal epic for the Russian film industry, with tens of thousands of extras and thousands of horses used in some of the battle scenes. Then Roger Corman got his hands on the movie for a release in the early 1960s. While little was generally changed, the "epic" feel of the original is felt to have been lost rather tragically in the conversion. The movie is also known as The Sword and the Dragon in America, while The Epic Hero and the Beast is the UK name. Both are drastically changed versions when compared to the original, of course. A copy of the full version with English subtitles can be seen here.

The film was directed by Alexander Ptushko, who also directed Sadko (The Magic Voyage of Sinbad in the USA) and Sampo (The Day the Earth Froze in the USA).


Fun fact: the three-headed dragon in this movie is one of the creatures King Ghidorah was based upon.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Tropes used in Ilya Muromets:

  • Action Girl: Ilya's wife managed to take down a few Tugars with a bow before she's finally captured at the beginning of the film. While she doesn't do much more of the sort the rest of the film, there's some good reasons.note 
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  • Anatomically Impossible Sex: Possibly dub induced, but Ilya tells his wife to bear him a child while he's away on his long, long epic journey. In the original, he specifically asks her to bear him a son.
  • And the Adventure Continues: After the Tugars are defeated, Ilya gives Little Falcon Svyatogor's sword and rides off in search of more adventure.
  • Artistic License – Biology: A horse's tail isn't just hair, it has nerves and bones and does NOT grow back! But then, perhaps that's why the nobleman was so upset at the sentence...
  • Captive Push: When the travellers sing their magic song, we see a column of captives, Ilya's wife at the front, being pushed forward. Corman's version puts the shot at the intro instead.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Chekhov's Ballista, in this case. Early in the film, Razumey the carpenter is able to persuade Prince Vladimir not to imprison him for felling trees without royal permission by explaining that he intends to design a ballista to defend Kiev. It gets a few quite important shots (literally) at the final battle. Corman, for some reason, removed the first part completely.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Without the first scene where Ilya's wife is taken, we get an extremely creepy scene of Ilya forcing himself on a young woman.
  • Dub Name Change: From the original title to The Sword and the Dragon (or The Epic Hero and the Beast for those in the UK). Many of the character names are also changed to sound less Russian (except, oddly, for Ilya Muromets himself).
  • Easily Condemned: Ilya has proven himself a great warrior and man of honor, to the point that he was adopted as Prince Vladimir's blood brother, yet when he's accused of abandoning the kingdom the Prince instantly believes the accusation and orders that Ilya be exiled from the kingdom forever. This in spite of the fact that the nobleman making the accusation has already been exposed as a liar with a grudge against Ilya (he previously claimed to have defeated a wind demon that Ilya actually defeated), plus the noble has absolutely no proof of Ilya's betrayal and nobody to back up his claim. Of course, Ilya losing his cool and threatening the Prince when he found out didn't exactly help his case.
  • Extremely Protective Child: Little Falcon strikes Kalin when the latter threatens his mother, inspiring Kalin to adopt him as his own.
  • Fanservice: Well, you can try to argue that the An Son Hi's minute long dance at 1:05 was intended as something else...
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ilya's wife.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The battle between Ilya and his son does seem to have a possible Foe Yay implication for a modern Russian.
  • Heritage Face Turn: Ilya is dueling with a young enemy warrior, and suddenly notices the boy is wearing a ring he gave his wife, making him realize he is fighting his own son. The boy is skeptical, but once he looks at the ring, he remembers his mother and says at once he wants to fight on Ilya's side.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    "It's not a cloth! It's a magic table cloth!"
  • Miles Gloriosus: The traitorous noble who convinces the Prince to exile Ilya. His introduction sees him claiming that he defeated an entire enemy army by himself, and a powerful wind demon as well. This serves to set up Ilya's introduction to the Prince, as Ilya is able to prove the lying noble wrong due to being the one who actually defeated the wind demon.
  • Million Mook March: World record for extras.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Tugars apparently spent several years just hanging out in their camp while Ilya was in prison, since he gets let out the first time they become a threat again.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: Basically what happens to Svyatogor. The Earth can carry him no longer due to his strength.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Falcon grows to adulthood (mightiest among the Tugar warriors even) while his father is in prison. In the bylinas, he was imprisoned for three years, but the movie changed it to ten, with people remarking about the fast aging.
  • Raised by Orcs: Little Falcon, naturally.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Tugars flee once the dragon is killed.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Ilya goads a Tugar envoy into attacking him just to justify killing the (now unarmed) man.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spared By Adaptation: The original sources usually have Ilya killing his son.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: A bit of talking when fighting the dragon, though not that bad.
  • Unfortunate Names: Invincor. In the original, his name was Svyatogor, which sounds pretty cool.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Ilya's multi-stage plan in the finale plays with this. It's not at all clear how the random schemes are supposed to stop the Tugar attack... but then it turns out his real plan was "waste their time with complete nonsense while our reinforcements get into position".
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Ilya is really good at making stuff up on the fly...
  • Yellow Peril: The film's main antagonists are the Tugars, a composite of the Tatars (who are of Turkic ethnicity) and the Mongol Golden Horde.


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