ⓘ Amphibian Man (film)


ⓘ Amphibian Man (film)

Amphibian Man is a 1962 Soviet science fiction romance film starring Vladimir Korenev and directed by Vladimir Chebotaryov and Gennadi Kazansky. The film stars Vladimir Korenev and Anastasiya Vertinskaya in the lead roles.

It is an almost fable-like story based upon the eponymous novel by Alexander Beliaev. It focuses on a youth named Ichthyander Russian: Ихтиандр, Ichtiandr from Greek: fish+man who was surgically altered to survive under the sea. Unlike traditional science fiction movies of the time the film focuses much more on the concept of love won and lost. It was given the name of Tarzan des Mers before the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs took exception.

The film was the leader of Soviet distribution in 1962, with 65.5 million admissions during its initial run that year. It later sold up to 100 million admissions including re-runs, the highest for a Soviet film up until The Red Snowball Tree 1974.


1. Plot

The story is set in a seaside port in Argentina but filmed in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, largely among a community of pearl fishers. The protagonist is the adopted son of a doctor/scientist who was sometime in the past forced to save the boys life by implanting him with shark gills. Thus he is able to live under water, but must keep his secret from the world. The conflict arises from his falling in love with a pearl-fishers beautiful daughter. His secret is discovered and the girls husband Pedro attempts to exploit Ichthyander for his ability to find pearls easily. Due to being kept caged under water, his ability to breathe in the open air is affected, and he must now live in the sea for several years. Although set free, the lovers are permanently separated from each other.

Although ostensibly a lost-love-tragedy like Romeo and Juliet, the film has a significant focus on greed and commercial exploitation of the pearl-greedy fishermen, possibly under the influence of Socialist Realism.


2. Home media

The Amphibian Man made its debut on DVD on August 21, 2001 where it was released by Image Entertainment. It was later re-released by VFN on July 9, 2015.


3. Western world

Amphibian Man is little-known in the West, but has become a cult classic. Hollywood filmmaker Quentin Tarantino cited Amphibian Man as one of his favourite Russian films, stating that he grew up watching an English dubbed version often shown on American television in the 1970s.

There have been accusations that the 2017 Hollywood film, The Shape of Water, plagiarised Amphibian Man. Indie Cinema Magazine noted that both have a similar plot, the use of the name "Amphibian Man" in both films, the Soviet connection in both stories, and the 1962 setting.