Советские Movies
August 28, 2016 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I highly recommend "Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears".
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 5:54 PM on August 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

Some great movies here (and not all of them Soviet - plenty from the 90's era like Brat)! From the Soviet classics I recommend (in no particular order)

Белое солнце пустыни - White sun of the desert
Кавказская пленница - Kidnapping, Caucasian style
Джентельмены удачи - Gentlemen of fortune
Иван Васильевич меняет профессию - Ivan Vasilievich: back to the future
Кин-дза-дза - Kin-dza-dza
Москва слезам не верит - Moscow does not believe in tears
Обыкновенное чудо - Ordinary miracle

Most of these can be found for free on Youtube as well, check out the channels of Mosfilm and STV as they post many of their own movies, often with subtitles.
posted by pravit at 6:12 PM on August 28, 2016 [9 favorites]

Иван Васильевич меняет профессию is delightfully bonkers and a much-loved classic. Glad to see it here!
posted by orrnyereg at 6:20 PM on August 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ooooh! And they have Autumn Marathon! This is a terrific site, thanks for posting!
posted by orrnyereg at 6:21 PM on August 28, 2016

Kin Dza Dza!!!! Which is a favorite of Shock Cinema from waaaay back. And is that the Russian print of Night Watch? I love the posters, too! So cool!
posted by palindromeisnotapalindrome at 6:48 PM on August 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

Kin Dza Dza is an amazing film. If you like science fiction with a touch of humor and political satire and a really crazy art design this is it. There are two versions, the original live action and a later animated version. The original is the best but the animated one is good too. The Soviet Whinnie the Pooh is in the live action film. The planet has a language with only two words. Koo. Which is used for everything but swearing. Kyoo is the swear word. And an insane class system. Watch it.
posted by njohnson23 at 7:01 PM on August 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

We just watched The Diamond Arm last night! The DVD extras include some of Yuri Nikulin clowning routines, which you can also see here.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:24 PM on August 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Come and See (Иди и смотри) is one of the most harrowing films i've ever seen, and one of the few war films ever made that makes no attempt to glorify it. also one of my all-time favorites.
posted by p3on at 8:31 PM on August 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

Was hoping for a different version of The Mirror, but nope, same as what's on YouTube.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:30 PM on August 28, 2016

*gentle gasp*
posted by louche mustachio at 11:54 PM on August 28, 2016

There are a lot of excellent movies on the site, but, man the site itself is kinda shabby. Lacking much in the way of info about the movies, with some descriptions seemingly scraped from other sites and varying wildly in their utility. I clicked into a few of the films, and most seem to be of decent or better quality, but with some that look a little more shaky, literally and figuratively. I also wonder about the rights issue with some of these choices, but that's only idle speculation on my part. Still, the site is easier to search in English than Mosfilms and the selection is top notch, so it looks to be worth using, especially for some of the more difficult to find selections.

Far too many films to list all the good ones not yet mentioned, but I can't pass up suggesting some reasons to watch some of the movies on the site. One of the great pleasures of watching Soviet cinema is seeing the differences in attitude towards common film tropes. Soviet cinema, for example, tends to celebrate collectivism as opposed to individuality, so even in a simple, and charming, romantic comedy like The Girls, you'll find some interesting variations on similar themed films from the US. The basic premise of girl meets boy and takes an instant dislike to him followed by a tit for tat period of game playing is given a twist, where the perspective on the relationship is tied to a larger view of how it might fit in with the common good. This can provide a sort of correction to how we might think about relationships in a Hollywood romantic comedy where the couple's game playing informs only their courtship itself.

Another example might be Scarlet Sails, a Soviet fairy tale that avoids reliance on plot or character development through magic demanding a more dialectic realism as the source of the characters achieving their dreams. From the perspective of those who lived in the USSR, this might seem to be giving in to the state at the expense of the audience in a way, but for those of us who grew up watching Hollywood, it, again, can provide a useful corrective to that style of fantasy.

If you're in the mood for lush romanticism though there are still films on the site worth checking out. Gypsies are Found near Heaven is a beauty, while the 1957 Palme d'Or winner The Cranes are Flying is a touch less fanciful, but no less emotionally rich for that.

More "arty" types should see, if they haven't already, Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors and/or The Color of Pomegranates as there is nothing really comparable to those films anywhere else. The director, Sergei Parajanov, like Andrei Tarkovsky, was a truly singular voice in film history. One can see where he picked up some of his techniques in other Soviet fantasies devoted to their folk tales, but he took those techniques far beyond their usual use to something all his own. Man with a Movie Camera is another legendary and influential film that is all its own genre in a way.

Sweeping sagas of Soviet history made up some of their biggest budget films, and many of them are worth seeing for anyone who likes epic sweep in their films. And Quiet Flows the Don is a six hour saga of a sort that the US didn't really have until TV mini-series came about, and few of those could match this movie. Siberiade is another long sweeping drama, this one directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy who was eventually brought to Hollywood for the skill he evinced in this movie. The Dawns Here are Quiet is a little less epic in its scope perhaps, but its plot, revolving around the effect of war on a group of young women training as military support who are drawn into the war first hand. Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev is an epic of a different sort, focused on the titular artist who worked in a turbulent era of Russian history during the 15th century. Here the artist and his art inform the history as much as the other way around. Repentance is sort of an anti-epic in a way, where the delusions of grandeur are more the focus.

Finally, I have to at least mention two other favorites. Letter Never Sent caught me completely off guard when I watched it. I guess "gripping" would be the word ads would use to describe it, but I don't want to reveal too much about it as its impact was greater for not knowing what the story was going to be. And one film I can happily recommend to anyone for a good time is the horror film VIY. It isn't so much scary or campy exactly, but lives somewhere between those two with charming special effects and amusing leads it'd probably closer to being a kindred spirit to Evil Dead 2 in outlook than anything else, not that you'd ever mistake this movie for that one.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:55 AM on August 29, 2016 [41 favorites]

Kin-Dza-Dza is great and everyone should watch it.

I was kind of let down to see that Nu Pogodi wasn't on the site but then I found out that a good number of episodes are available legitimately on YouTube
posted by Gev at 5:33 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

> Another example might be Scarlet Sails, a Soviet fairy tale that avoids reliance on plot or character development

Based on the great novel (Алые паруса in Russian) by Alexander Grin, one of the rare classic Russian novels that doesn't feature Russian characters—Grin created his own universe with evocative names (Longren, Manners, the town of Liss); highly recommended to lovers of fantastic/romantic literature.
posted by languagehat at 7:46 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

The site suddenly stopped loading for me, perhaps due to unexpected traffic? If anyone is interested specifically in Andrei Tarkovsky, some of his films are also watchable via links on this page.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:16 AM on August 29, 2016

!!! I have the Night Watch/Day Watch books but didn't realize they made movies out of them. The books are awesome. Are the movies as good?
posted by aperturescientist at 10:04 AM on August 29, 2016

Fantastic, thanks, and thank to everyone for the specific suggestions!

We just watched The Diamond Arm last night! The DVD extras include some of Yuri Nikulin clowning routines, which you can also see here.

Awesome! I came across that movie years back, and I loved it. Thanks for the clowning routines video link.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:04 PM on August 29, 2016

Come and See (Иди и смотри) is one of the most harrowing films i've ever seen, and one of the few war films ever made that makes no attempt to glorify it. also one of my all-time favorites.

According to Wikipedia, the screenplay was written by Ales Adamovich, who also wrote a novel based on his experiences in Belarus during WW2, Khatyn. (The French translation of his book is somewhat confusingly titled Viens et vois, i.e. Come and See). One of the links from a previous Metafilter post about Svetlana Alexievich cites him as a major influence on her works. (Timothy Snyder in NYRB)

So, thanks for pointing that one out, I'll definitely have to watch it!
posted by Peter J. Prufrock at 12:08 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stalker (Сталкер) is a Soviet sci-fi must-watch.
posted by Itaxpica at 3:23 PM on August 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

Solaris is there and other Tarkovsky films too.
posted by salishsea at 4:33 PM on August 29, 2016

A few other good picks:

Great directors - Danelia, Ryazanov

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9HATyYkZLs Afonya - a tragi-comedy, a story about a soviet plumber.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR-1QGMK75c - An office Romance - a lyrical comedy about a romance at the office. The music in the beginning is sublime.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfOi-ATv-QM - A cruel Romance - a historical drama. Very tastefully and masterfully done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmGxGHQH9lY - Autumn Marathon, a light, sad, understated comedy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSc3uk8Q5w4 - Courier. Growing up in mid-eighties. Funny and quirky.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKYYiot8-2Q - Impossible! Snappy soviet comedy, I think the best of early Gaidai.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8jxR2asjRQ&index=110&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR - Big Break (4 series) - a cute comedy, quite enjoyable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCIb0R_8Ww4&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR&index=131 - Forgotten Melody for a Flute - an extra marital affair in the waning Soviet Union. directed by Ryazanov.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q94-LosxJuw&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR&index=141 - A man from the Kaputsin Boulevard - a soviet cowboy movie about the introduction of cinema to the wild west. nuff said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuEWpdLatLI&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR&index=168 - As I walk through Moscow - a cult soviet 60s masterpiece, a lyrical comedy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYEfJhkPK7o&index=183&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR - Stalker. A breathtakingly beautiful philosophical film with pink floyd-like soundtrack. Something of an odyssey-type story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgAope6aRJc&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR&index=196 - Place of meeting can't be changed - to mix things up, this was supposed to be Soviet Union's answer to the Godfather. Stars the most colorful soviet personality / songwriter / singer / actor Vladimir Vissotsky.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVh4PzhKxrU&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR&index=204 - Where is Nofelet? - a dating comedy from late eighties, starrting one of the most fun soviet actors Pankratov-Cherny, with his memorable black moustache!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGDMk-TvBX0&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR&index=298 - winter evening in Gagras - one of my personal favorites, a story about transience of life.

Mimino - one of great Danelia films about an airplane pilot, with a great song in the beginning, starts about 3:00 mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whHySar4EoY&list=PLO7FUJHSsKrDoDPB15m7OJ8ym7XKS7acR&index=394 - A dog's heart - based on the famous Bulgakov book, a very faithful treatment. Can a dog become a man? Perfectly executed, my only complaint is that it's too close to the book, so if you have read it many times over as I have, it feels too much of a repetition.

I would have posted a lot more links, but alas, many great films on youtube still arent' closed-captioned.
posted by rainy at 7:12 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

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