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Favorite Soviet Films

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Post 18 Nov 2011, 18:50
What are your favorite Soviet films?

I like 'Come and See,' 'Brilliant Arm,' and 'Guest from the Future.'
Post 18 Nov 2011, 19:20
Yeah, Come and See's pretty much the only war film to give me PTSD.
However, there's so much life affirming in Tarkovsky's take on the Strugatsky brothers' book "Roadside Picnic" -- "Stalker" that probably puts it highly in my books. Magical realism or sci-fi? I can't quite classify it.
Post 18 Nov 2011, 19:31
Not sure about the others you mentioned, I'll have to keep an eye out for them. I'm trying to build a small collection of Soviet era films on disc. As for 'Come and See,' as I understand, it's pretty historical on the 'History vs. Fiction' scale. From what I've read of the Nazi's own accounts of themselves, it's probably not too far off base. This is not the case for all of supposed 'Historical' Soviet films. For instance, according to 'Battleship Potemkin,' the revolt started because of maggots in the sailor's food. This was actually the most incorrect point made in the film. The revolt had nothing to do with food...

(No, I don't know what caused the revolt on the ship... I am relying on what my Russian friends told me. My best guess is that the sailors got sick and tired of taking orders from Imperialists, but again that is just a guess.)
Post 18 Nov 2011, 19:50
Or the ancient reality of soldiers fighting a war of attrition simply becoming annoyed and re-democratised to the point they could be seen as communists, whether they would like to be called that or not - see the English Civil Wars, and plenty of other wars in history.
The BatPot to me's interesting from the perspective of how it's filmed. BUT I would say that Strike is one of the finest shot films I have yet seen, that, Vertov's "1/6 of the Earth" and Dovzhenko's "Earth" and "Arsenal" are real gems of early Soviet cinema. Dovzhenko's really out there with his politics and futurism.
Post 23 Nov 2011, 12:37
, really awesome. Two thumbs up from me
Post 18 Jan 2012, 19:29
Ivan Grozny - both parts 1 + 2 are my favorites. I admire the acting and the camera work. The background style is unique. Special kudos to the actress who played Efrosina, the Tzar's aunt.
Post 18 Jan 2012, 21:04
You guys have got to try out some of the films of golden era of 1960s and 70s cinema (and some 80s). I'd recommend a few of the following:

'Aleksander Malenkii'/'Little Alexander': Great Soviet-GDR collaboration about the Soviets' postwar occupation of Germany and their interactions with Germans. Excellent treatment of a difficult topic.

'Beregis Avtomobilya'/'Beware of the Car': 1960s comedy/drama flick about a guy that steals cars from corrupt people.

'Beloe Solntse Pustini'/'The White Sun of the Desert': Commonly noted early 70s comedy/drama flick about the early Soviet attempts to 'tame' Central Asia.

'Beliy Bim, Chernoe Uho'/'White Bim the Black Ear': Great 1970s drama about a man and his dog.

'Brillianotvaya Ruka'/'The Diamond Arm': Great late 1960s comedy with some of the greatest stars of Soviet history -Mironov, Nikulin, Papanov.

'Dventadcat Stulev'/'12 Chairs' (1977 tv miniseries version): Great adaptation by Mark Zakharov of this adventure of Ostap Bender.

Dzhentelmeny Udachi'/'Gentlemen of Fortune': Probably my favourite film of this era. Funny, beautifully choreographed, catchy soundtrack, and some of the greatest actors of Soviet cinema. A lot of people have said that you have to be Russian to fully appreciate it, though.

'Gorachi Sneg'/'Hot Snow': Excellent patriotic 1970s war film.

'Idi i Smotri'/'Come and See': As LPC noted, this film may be a very traumatic experience to watch, but a necessary one in my view.

'Ironiya Sudby'/'Irony of Fate': 1970s romantic comedy flick commonly watched at New Year's in Russia to this day.

Kavkazkaya Plennitsa'/'Kidnapping, Caucasian style': Great 60s comedy flick by Leonid Gaidai about a corrupt politician's attempt to 'buy' marriage with a beautiful young woman in the Caucasus, and a young political science student's attempt to stop him.

'Kontrakt Veka'/'Deal of the Century': 1985 film that those interested in economics and geopolitics would find very interesting (not sure if subtitles exist). The film is about the Soviet negotiations with the FRG and the attempt to build an oil and gas pipeline network to Western Europe. The film shows the negotiations, and various machinations by those opposed to the network's construction, including the CIA.

'Magistral': 1983 film about a railway accident interesting not so much for its story or dramatic content as much as for how it discusses the problems of the Soviet railway network. Bribes, the stress of a conductor who is constantly thinking about the lack of proper living quarters for him and his family, and high level discussions about how to solve problems. Again, a snapshot of the time -shot during Andropov's attempt to point out inefficiencies and real problems accumulating in the country.

'Mesto Vstrechi Izminit Nelzya'/'The Meeting Place Cannot be Changed': 1970s detective story set in the early post-war period in the USSR, a young war veteran joining the Moscow Police to catch a particularly nasty group of criminals. Bard singer Vladimir Vysotsky plays a co-starring role.

'Mimino': Another of my absolute favourites, from the 1970s. A Georgian helicopter pilot wants to go into big aviation after seeing a buddy from the academy. He travels to Moscow to get approval, and the story shows his travails. Along the way he meets an Armenian trucker, and they have several adventures together. Touching to see the ethno-cultural integration in the country, and a good snapshot of life in the USSR at the time.

'Moskva Slezam ne Verit'/'Moscow Does not Believe in Tears': An excellent early 1980s comedy/drama piece. About a beautiful and intelligent woman and her friends and their attempts to build their professional and personal lives in Moscow from the late 1950s to the early 1980s.

'Na Odnoi Planete'/'On One Planet': 1960s film documenting the work of Lenin in the early post-revolutionary period. There's an excellent retroscoped scene of Lenin talking to Stalin about the necessity not to be too harsh to one's enemies, obviously a subtle critique of the Stalin period's excesses.

'Neveroyatnye Priklyucheniya Italyantsev v Rossii'/'Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia': Great 1970s comedy.

'Operatsiya y i drugiye priklucheniya Shurkia'/'Operation Y and other Adventures of Shurik': Excellent 60s comedy about a young political science student and his adventures, again by Gaidai.

'Osenni Marafon'/'Autumn Marathon': Great 70s drama flick about a guy in Leningrad who's made too many commitments and constantly has to run everywhere (both literally and metaphorically) to meet them. Another great snapshot.

'Otets Soldata'/'Father of a Soldier': Great 1960s film about a Georgian father who decides to go to the front to see his son. Very dramatic and emotional film.

'Respublika Shkid': Dramatic and emotionally charged film about a man's attempt to regiment and reform a gang of kids in early post-revolutionary St. Petersburg. Powerful because it really is amazing how the Soviet government dealt with this severe problem, and extremely sad because this problem has once again cropped up in post-Soviet Russia.

'Semnadsat Mgnavenie Vestni'/'17 Moments of Spring': The classic spy thriller about a Soviet secret agent in the heart of Nazi Germany during the last days of the war, and his attempt to warn the Soviet government about potential German surrender negotiations with the Western allies. Serious, intelligent, and based in many real facts, this miniseries is commonly listed among the best cinematic productions in Soviet cinematic history. A word of warning though: The pacing of the series starts out slow, so please don't be put off early on. As the series continues it gets more and more tense, and as it nears its end it becomes almost unbearably interesting and exciting.

'Zhenya, Zehenchka i Katyusha': A rare and highly interesting comedy drama about the normally sacred subject of the war. Lots of humour, including a number of innovations not found until years later in cinema elsewhere. I find it amazing that the film was even shot and distributed.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but if you watch at least half of these movies and miniseries I think your conceptions about the USSR may change. It's one thing to read philosophy, history and political economy books about the country. It's another to see it come to life through the medium of film. I doubt that all of the films I've listed have English subtitles, but I think the vast majority now do. Just check out youtube. Also, if you're learning Russian watching these old films is an excellent way to gain an understanding of the little nuances in the way people talk or the words and phrases they use, given that many of the films noted above are cult hits whose catchphrases are used to this day.
Post 18 Jan 2012, 22:09
Thank you so much. Its immensely interesting to see the very different styles.

A lot of early soviet stuff tends to almost remind me more of theater than movies, possibly they were adapting some of the same ideas and acting styles.
Post 19 Jan 2012, 00:36
One of the best Soviet war movies is Trial on the Roads (Proverka na dorogakh). It's low-budget but the plot is most dramatic: a Russian soldier after being taken prisoner by the Germans briefly collaborated with them on the occupied territory, but his conscience brings the best in him and he surrenders to the Soviet guerrillas - or so he says. The guerrilla commander has to decide if he can trust him and use him on a mission to infiltrate a German garrison.

The Afghan Breakdown (Afgansky Izlom) quite accurately depicts the contradiction between the remants of the internationlism that the Soviet Army was officially supposed to stand for in Afghanistan and the consumerism and decay that already manifested itself "back in the Union".

Also the 2010 Russo-Belorussian movie The Brest Fortress (Brestskaya krepost'), although not technically a Soviet movie, is very good (especially compared to the trash Nikita Mikhalkov has produced lately) and several combat scenes are actually remakes from genuine Soviet war films.
Post 16 Feb 2012, 05:57
The Cranes are Flying. dir. Kalatozov

It has to be one of my favorite films, ever, not just Soviet film. It's out on Criterion, so it's not even hard to find.

The story is wonderful, very fresh and poignant, the acting is superb, especially by the female lead and her father in law, but best of all is the amazing directing by Kalatozov (who is responsable for Salt for Sventia, one of the great films of the silent era). He uses all sorts of techniques throughout the film, but with such taste that even as it wows you, it is never distracting.

Anyways, I suck at reviewing stuff, so just go out and watch this movie.
Post 29 Nov 2013, 12:36
Only Old Men Are Going To Battle (1973)
It's pretty interesting, check it out if you haven't
Post 02 Mar 2014, 12:53
My favorite is Aerograd.
Post 02 Mar 2014, 14:54
Stalker, and Solyaris. Both Tarkovsky, hmm.
And I must add Ironiya Sudby, just because.

I haven't seen a lot of the suggestions though, but thanks to yt am slowly changing that.
There is quite a lot of post-Soviet Russian cinema I've enjoyed.
Post 02 Mar 2014, 15:51
Damn, comrades, Soviet films can be so depressing. At least especially the post-GPW ones (which makes sense given conditions, but still, sad).

I've been trying to find English subtitles for the New Year's Eve film but still can't.
Post 02 Mar 2014, 16:28
Agreed they aren't all feel-good, but I find many of them bitter-sweet

YT links (with subs):
Part 1
Part 2
Post 02 Mar 2014, 16:33
Tomik wrote:
Agreed they aren't all feel-good, but I find many of them bitter-sweet

YT links (with subs):
Part 1
Part 2

Thank you a lot man been looking a while but VK is all in Russian!
Post 05 Mar 2014, 23:31
Moskva slezam ne verit is a good film too, in a different genre. I like the music.
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