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Literature / Sannikov Land

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Земля Санникова (Sannikov Land) is a 1926 Russian/Soviet Science Fiction / Speculative Fiction / Action-Adventure novel by Vladimir Obruchev, and a 1973 film adaptation by Albert Mkrtchyan and Leonid Popov. The story is based on the legends about Sannikov Land, an island in the far north of the Arctic Ocean that is warmed by a volcano and inhabited by a tribe called the Onkilon. It is similar to the works of Jules Verne or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


The scientist and settler Alexander Ilyin (Vladislav Dvorzhetsky) persuades goldmine owner Trifon Perfilev to sponsor an expedition to find gold in Sannikov Land. Perfilev agrees, and Ilyin gathers an expedition consisting of himself, officer-adventurer Yevgeny Krestovsky (Oleg Dal), Katorga runaway and former doctor Gubin, and Ignatiy, Perfilev's servant, who is told to kill the other adventurers if they do find gold.

The motley crew sets out, and finally reaches Sannikov Land, which is indeed warmed by a volcano. Thanks to this warming, the island is inhabited by the Onkilon, who greet the adventurers. But things do not go as planned. The volcano is cooling down, and when it cools, Sannikov Land will enter a deep freeze, and no adventurer, Onkilon, or living creature of any kind will survive. Only Ilyin will return to the mainland....


The film was a big success, and was seen by 41 million viewers in 1974.

This novel and movie provides examples of:

  • Apocalypse How: On the low end of Class 0. The eruption (in the novel) or freeze (in the film) will kill everyone and everything on Sannikov Land.
  • Living Relic: In the original novel, Sannikov Land was also populated by Neanderthals and mammoths.
  • Oh, Crap!: When they realize the volcano is cooling.
  • Scenery Porn: Filmed in the Gulf of Finland and in the Valley of the Geysers on Kamchatka.


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