3-D Russian Movies: Stereo Kino



Back in the 1950's, at the height of the Cold War, in Americathe movie industry was all agog at a "new" gimmick: the 3-D movie. Major filmslike Dial M for MurderThe House of Wax, and Kiss Me Kate were shotin polarized "stereo," and Americans flocked to the latest in Americantechnology. What did the Soviets do in reply? Nothing. You see, the Soviets had beenmaking 3-D movies since the 1920's! It was all old hat here in St. Petersburg.

In the U.S., the interest in 3-D fizzled and died by the 1960's,but here in Russia, it went slowly and quietly on. Because of this, you can occasionallyfind screw on attachments for the Zenit camera to convert it to a 3-D camera. If youspecial order from the film shop above Agfa, you can get a FED Stereo camera, which in 3-Dphotography circles is considered to be not only better than the Japanese Nishika 3-D, butthe best stereo camera ever. In keeping with the continued Russian interest in 3-D, St.Petersburg even has it's own 3-D movie theatre, the Stereokino, right on Nevsky Prospect,opposite the Nevsky Palace Hotel.

The Stereokino also shows "flatties" (regular un-3-Dfilms), mainly pirated American B-movies. On one occasion I even saw a film there that wasnot only projected from an out-of-focus video projector, but had "FOR SCREENINGPURPOSES ONLY" in big red letters on the bottom edge of the picture in the keyscenes! However, every so often, the Stereokino comes to full flower when they actuallyget hold of a real 3-D movie. These range from American porno films (the only 3-D moviesof note made in America after the 50's were porno flicks), Japanese action-adventurecartoons, and Russian family features.

Right now the Stereokino is showing The Lynx Stalks It'sPrey, a new Russian live action family movie, strikingly similar to an old Lassiemovie. In Lynx, Stepan Starchikov stars as a brave forest ranger battling a band of evilpoachers. He is supported by a wise fatherly head of the local militia, a long sufferingwife, and a cute blonde little girl. The little girl has raised a wild lynx as a pet sincekittenhood, when the lynx's mother was killed by the evil poachers. A long, complex andrather predictable plot ensues where the little girl is kidnapped by the lead poacher. Andof course, all ends happily, as Lassie-like, the lynx pounces on the evil poacher's head,and saves the little girl. I need hardly say, the plot is not the attraction here. What isan attraction is seeing a lot of nice, if not incredible, Russian nature scenes in 3-D.It's a bit like getting to have a 2-hour Summer dacha trip in the middle of winter.

If you want to see 3-D movies at the Stereokino you need tocheck periodically at the entrance for the posters announcing the films and times. Alwaysmake sure the movie is a stereo feature by looking for the word stereo (it looks like"ctepeo"), or "3-D" on the poster somewhere. The box office also posts"stereo" next to the title of any 3-D film. Prices range from 3-5T a ticket.Inside you will be given a pair of polarized 3-D glasses to wear for the duration of theshow. Try to sit in the approximate center of the house to get the best stereo effect, andenjoy the show. ---Tara Maginnis, 2/95


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