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Russian Language (and Soviet era) Films

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There was a good discussion of Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev" on a different board. Why not have a discussion of Russian language films (pre-Soviet, Soviet and post-Soviet) and non-Russian Soviet era films here?


Some Russian/Soviet films I like



The Gorky Trilogy

Ivan's Childhood

Andrei Rublev

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors


Dersu Uzala (directed by Kurosawa)

Slave of Love

Trial on the Road

Come and See

Forgotten Melody for Flute

Letters from a Dead Man

Burnt by the Sun

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Alexander Nevsky and both Ivan the Terrible movies are my favorites of Soviet Cinema. Stalker was interesting. I have been trying to track down a documentary about Soviet musicals I believe is called East Side Story. I know of only one video store here in town and everytime I try to check it out they can't find it and claim someone else has it out. Does anyone know anything about this documentary or any other Soviet musicals?

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Oooh! "Burnt by the Sun". I absolutely loved that one. I think I watched it just about every time IFC aired it years ago. They were supposed to release a sequel (don't know if that's a good thing), but I never heard any more about it.

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What a great list of movies Mike. Especially, Ivan's Childhood, Come and See, Andrei Rublev and Burnt By The Sun. Don't forget, The Steamroller and The Violin, The Mirror and The Sacrafice also from Tarkovsky, There really is something very unique about Russian and Soviet cinema. A look and feel that has been passed down from artist to artist and is very Russian in nature. A signature that doesn't exist anywhere else.

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I've never seen "East Side Story," but perhaps Facets Multimedia might have it for rent by mail.


As for Soviet musicals of the Stalin era, there were basically two eras. The first was pre-WWII. The brains behind it was G. Alexandrov, who had been Eisenstein's assistant. He went with Eisenstein to Hollywood in the early 30s and saw how American films were made. Returning to the USSR, he made a movie called Jazz Comedy/Jolly Fellows/Happy Go Lucky Guys which was a big hit and sparked a series of musicals by Alexandrov: Circus, Volga-Volga and Shining Path/Radiant Road. These were centered on Alexandrov's wife Olga Libyumov (? I can't remember exactly.) Historians call these "urban musicals" since they focus on Moscow or getting to Moscow and how modern the USSR is. Supposedly, these films were so important that Stalin picked out the title Shining Path/Radiant Road himself.


After WWII, Soviet musicals changed entirely. Now you had films like Knight of the Golden Star/Cavalier of the Golden Star and Kuban Cossacks. These are "rural musicals" set in the prosperous countryside and deal with successful collective farms. Historians see these films as an effort to convince people that life had returned to normal after the war. Alexandrov was not involved with these films. At this time he had to make a few anti-American movies.

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Just finished reading a great book, "Russian War Films" by Denise J. Youngblood. It covers Russian war movies from the silents up to the present. She explains why WWI has been largely avoided, and talks about films on the Russian Civil War, WWII, Afghanistan and Chechnya.


Some of the films are very familiar (at least in the coverage they get in books) like "The Rainbow" and "Ballad of a Soldier." But she spends a lot of time focusing on films that got little exposure outside of the USSR, like "The Dawns are Quiet Here" and "They Fought for the Motherland."


Overall, this was a very impressive, informative, and jargon-free book.

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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) is in English, and stars Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, and Oskar Werner. It will be shown on TCM this Friday at 6pm (eastern time) if you want to have another look at it.


I like Russian films very much.

One of my favorites is Window to Paris.

Ivan the Terrible is incredible,

as are Crime and Punishment, Alexander Nevsky, and War and Peace (the Russian one).


And I like:

Slave of Love

Unfinished Piece for the Player Piano

The Lady With the Little Dog

The Princess and the Pea

Ruslan and Ludmila



and silents:

The Man With the Movie Camera

The Battleship Potemkin

Mad Love

The Cameraman's Revenge

Bed and Sofa

and the hilarious short film, Chess Fever


I also had the good fortune to see the incredible 7+hour-long silent serial film, La Maison du Myst?re, which was made by Russian director Alexandre Volkoff. A friend of mine provided the live music accompaniment; needless to say, he was exhausted when it was over.


And there are two very good silent Hollywood films, both from 1928, set during the Russian Revolution: Tempest, with John Barrymore, and The Last Command, directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Emil Jannings.

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