Amphibian Man (1962)

Amphibian Man (1962)‘To create an underwater republic is not that easy, my dear friend.’

A scientist working on a remote coast has created a man who can live both in water and on land and has raised him as a son. Unfortunate complications ensue when his protégé begins to interact with the human world, and finds that it’s not the paradise he believed it to be.

Russian Science Fiction-Romance that begins by laying on the charm before taking a surprisingly serious turn late on. The innocence and simplicity of the early scenes are quite engaging as poor, but pretty, heroine Anastasiya Vertinskava goes about her business in a gorgeous picture postcard seaside town on the Baltic. Unfortunately, her idyllic life is compromised by local rascal Don Pedro who is using his considerable influence to pressure her father into giving her up to a loveless marriage. Things are looking bleak until she meets a mysterious, handsome stranger, and they fall in love. Complications ensure when it transpires that he’s part-man, part-fish.

This is a pleasingly old fashioned picture, a fairytale really, but given a modern, scientific twist. The dreamy atmosphere is enhanced by the film’s striking locations, beautifully captured by the crystal clear cinematography of Eduard Rozovsky. Technically, the film is excellent in all its aspects; both the exterior and interior of the scientist’s clifftop laboratory are a fine achievement in production design. The players are appealing too, particularly young leads Vertinskava and fish-boy Vladimir Korenev.

Amphibian Man (1962)

‘Cod & Chips twice, and have you got any of those little onion rings?

Where the film falls down a little is in the story development. Sure, there’s plenty of conflict with the villain, and a dark finish that contrasts well with the lighter earlier scenes. However, there is a little too much of our mooning lovebirds, and stronger supporting characters would have helped. There’s also not a whole lot that’s original about the proceedings. For instance, when Korenev visits the town for the first time, his trials are effectively rendered, but they are somewhat obvious and predictable.

A little more attention here and there and this film might have gained quite a reputation. As it is, it’s still a strong little picture, it just fails to take that final step to greatness.

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