The Mystery of the Third Planet

A week or so back I found a post on animator Dan Meth’s blog about a freaky Russian animated film from the 1980’s called Mystery of the Third Planet.

The Mystery of the Third Planet animated film

As he described, the film is full of imaginative designs of alien creatures and foliage. And the lead character has a killer mullet and looks like Egon from Ghostbusters.

The Mystery of the Third Planet animated film

Dan mentioned the movie is out on DVD and available at Ebay for 99 cents a copy so I quickly ordered one to see this masterpiece for myself. And it is completely worth a couple bucks. It’s a 60 minute film and holds up the entire way through, mostly by virtue of the bizarre visual designs. The video quality is crap, but this is still apparently an official release, not bootleg. All the same, worth the cash.

The Mystery of the Third Planet animated film

But I totally overpaid on Ebay. It is available for you to buy right now for 1 penny at Amazon. Get into it!

The Mystery of the Third Planet animated film

9 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Third Planet”

  1. The leading character is, in fact, Alissa, the girl. It’s based on one of the Alissa novels by Kirill Bulichev, “The girl to whom nothing ever happened”.
    And i really really love it. It impressed me a lot, as a kid. The robot planet is great… The little shifting color box character… The depressive big alien at the spaceport bar… The crazy scientist collecting alien animals for the zoo… The evil spy… And the rythm of the storytelling is great.

  2. Thanks for the additional info, XOPXE. It’s also interesting to note that this film has more or less “full” animation despite the fact that it’s from the ’80s. Sometimes there is even too much animation, such as a scene in which the girl talks to another person and behind them the two other men are moving and gesturing and secretly whispering to each other– it divides the attention in its attempt to depict a realistic scene of one thing happening while another does simultaneously. Then again, that is what is so refreshing about this movie, that it doesn’t follow all the tried and true standards of American animation staging and action. I also enjoyed noticing little differences like that in another Russian cartoon I found on the internet, Nu Pogodi.

  3. I think i understand what you mean with “full” animation. The experiece of seeing it as a ’80s kid (and i’m sure it’s pre ’85) was of a full blown action/adventure film. It was all ooh and aah. And it was so freaking modern, with that bearded hippy pilot…
    Nu Pogodi, on the other side, was part of a series, more to the western use (say like Tom&Jerry). It also was WILDLY popular. Probably because of the “series” format, which wasn’t very usual back then. They even had a punchline! Surprisingly, Nu Pogodi is the one which stands worse being watched out of context. It wasn’t particularly well drawn, but had excelent voice acting. And a lot of the humor around the Wolf character is around him being based on a prototypical russian urban character, which was inmediatelly recognized. But the physical humor part was very primitive compared to, say, roadrunner’s.
    If you’re interested in russian animation, i recommend “Captain Vrungel”, a 13 episode series about a round the world sailing race, with art thieves, italian mafiosi and 007-like british policemen. The animating is based on cutouts, sort of like Gilliam’s pieces for the Monthy Python.
    And another gem is Winny Pooh, which is *vastly* superior to the Disney incarnation.
    And congratulations for the art here, very impressive!

  4. Ah I have/had a VHS copy of this, a classic car boot sale find… Very odd film… i found it really slow paced in a kind of nightmarish way! :) Interesting stuff. Some great weird designs.

  5. Hi there. I stumbled upon this post thanks to Amid at CartoonBrew.

    I can assure you, this is NOT a legitimate release. Most movies found in the 99 cent / $1 bins are PD rips, unlicensed / unauthorized editions, or worse – DVD rips of OTHER legitimate releases. I have a $1 disc of The Hobbit. The Rankin-Bass one. I’m guessing you got the EastWestDVD release, right? They’re notorious for releasing PD stuff and unauthorized rips.

    I first saw this movie on cable, and judging from those screenshots, the transfer was near DVD-quality in comparison to this VHS rip. I’ve been unable to score an English copy of this and I refuse to pay insane shipping costs, but I’ll keep an eye out for this one.

  6. Hi Dave, actually on the DVD I bought the quality looks like a VHS transfer, and an old crappy VHS no less. It is released with generic cover art from “Magical Memories” which is apparently a title from Cascadia Labs who authored and “remastered” this film in Canada according to the package. It does seem very bootleg-ish.

  7. Chris Sobienak: You can buy that DVD at Amazon for ten dollars. There’s several other volumes, as well.

    Meathaus: Yes, I have several other DVDs which have been confirmed as being VHS rips/encodes. I guess they don’t really care about the source material, heh.

  8. Thanks for the note Dave. I just wanted to give those guys a plug personally for the hard effort they put into releaseing this stuff domestically. The worst I just did was download the Russian edition via eMule, which looks quite good. A place I found it at has some really good, restored editions of Soyuzmultfilm’s library as hi-res AVI’s (albeit, DVD rips). Prior to that, the best I had seen of the material had been tiny AVI’s made years ago from less-than-steller soure material (like 16mm dupes or such).

    I’m also highly aware of the EastWest DVD’s too. I can’t believe the number of titles from the old “Expanded Entertainment” they’ve got out on disc nowadays. Those tapes cost me $30-40 each when I bought them a decade ago.

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