I am leaving for St. Petersburg, Russia in 3 days and will be there for 6 months. I’ve seen a few Russian films – Ivan’s Childhood, The Return, Burnt By the Sun, and Prisoner of the Mountains.
I would love to get some suggestions on more films to watch, particularly ones that aren’t in the filmography of Tarkovsky or Eisenstein, because I already know about those, and already plan to watch them.
Appreciate any suggestions.
check out the work of dziga vertov. “man with a movie camera”
three other important films for the history of russian cinema are “come and see”, “the cranes are flying”, and “ballad of a soldier.”
Check out Come and See by Klimov great film!
“The Cranes are Flying” and “I Am Cuba”, both by Kalatozov, are pretty amazing (I’ve heard “The Letter Never Sent” is great too, but never seen it). In the silent film realm, Pudovkin’s “Mother” is supposed to be good, and “Earth” by Dovzhenko stuck out to me (I know Tarkovsky was a fan of his work in general). “Russian Ark” is another obvious one.
Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala
Aleksandr Sokurov’s The Second Circle – pretty good, but took me a few days to appreciate it though
Sokurov’s Mother & Son to add to the excellent titles above. 4 by Khrzanovsky (2004) if you want something on the more adventurous (but very dark) side. I love Russian films, but I think they could be the world’s most somber films. It will be interesting what you think of the current situation. Good luck.
These are all really great films:
Urga (probably Nikita Mikhalkov’s best film)
Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa)
Wings + The Ascent (by Larisa Shepitko)
Well, a film that is not in the class of those mentioned, but it is undeniably impressive (if you come across a decent print):
War and Peace.
Seconds on Pudovkin’s “Mother”; a period piece, but fascinating watching.
If you’re interested in something more recent, check out Karen Shakhnazarovs filmography. I just saw Ischeznuvshaya imperiya (Vanished Empire) from last year, which was alright.
if you can find a VHS copy of “freeze, die, come to life” check it out. i also agree with tommy and bob—sokurov is the best, particularly “mother and son,” which may be my favorite movie ever.
Ive always wanted to see mother and son, but have never found it here in Canada. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
What DVD region is Canada? I think Kino makes the US dvd; there’s also a nice-looking French DVD from Potemkine Editions. Either way, it’s on the respective Amazon sites for each country and is well worth the purchase.
Canada is Region 1, same as US. I had looked for it on Amazon once before and didn’t see, but I will definitely look again, thank you.
I recently sold a large number of no-longer-watched DVDs, so I have been on the look out for some new titles to buy with the proceeds.
Kin dza dza
Keagan – How’s your French? Go to Amazon/France (amazon.fr) and see if they have a Region1 CD of the film(s) you seek. They offer many DVDs in Region1 format as well as Region2 (for France and the rest of Europe) but they ship all over the world. You will pay a lot for a Region1 CD, however. Careful – you may get a Russian sound track and French sub-titles.And you will need the French title of Mothers and Son, which may or may not be Mere et Fils. If you’re determined then give it a spin. You’ve got French-speaking friends up there, don’t you? Ask them to order it for you. Cheers. G.A.
I believe some of you folk may be confusing Russian film with Soviet film – a grave error: they definitely are not the same thing. Soviet films are generally excellent, Russian films far less than excellent. The Cranes are Flying and Ballad of a Soldier (I saw them in Paris in the early 50s) are Soviet masterpieces. The title of one of the best Soviet films translates from Russian to English as “Pieces for a Mechanical Piano” or possibly “Five Pieces for a Mechanical Piano” but I do not believe it was ever shown in the West, sadly. It was made in the 70s, and it’s noteworthy for it’s use of color – Soviet film-makers were never comfortable with color. I have a Region2 DVD of it, sent me by a Russian friend in Moscow, not long ago. Cheers
Tarkovsky is a must, and I feel you are yet to see his greatest work if Ivan is the only film you’ve seen of his. Try Solaris, Stalker, Mirror, Andrei Rublev, The Sacrifice (the last was actually made in Sweden)… hell, pretty much anything with his name attached to it is fantastic.
Sokurov is also very good – Mother and Son is superb, and Russian Ark is very unique. His latest film, Alexandra, is worth a look – I quite enjoyed it.
“alexandra” was horrible to me. that was my first sokurov, and i was highly disappointed. very boring, and the film didn’t seem to have anything interesting to say, thematically, formally, or any other way.
Chukrai’s THE FORTY-FIRST
Parajanov’s SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS
Yes, as pointed out by Gordon, these are both Soviet films, but they are exceptional pieces of pure cinema.
my favorite tarkovsky is the steamroller and the violin, one of my favorite short films of all time.
4, Ilia Khrzhanovsky (2004). You can watch it here on the Auteurs. Awesome film.
I would add Andrei Zvyagintsev’s The Return. A deeply compelling and ultimately tragic story of two boys relationship with their father, a man they barely know. Konstantin Lavronenko, who portrays the father, is stunning.
I just saw one of the most famous “banned” Soviet films of all time, COMMISSAR by Aleksandr Askoldov. It was made in 1967, banned, finally released during perestroika, and the director never made another film. It will remind you of so many of the greatest Soviet films from the silent age through the sixties.
I also highly recommend EARTH by Dovzhenko, either of the adaptions of HAMLET and KING LEAR by Grigory Kozintsev , both of Larissa Shepitko’s films WINGS and ASCENT available from the Eclipse series, and REPENTENCE by Tengiz Abuladze. All are first rate.
Here’s a good site for more reading….
The Lady With The Dog based on a Chekov short story. Absolutely perfect.
Also, the Russians made some splendid movies based on classic plays and novels. There is a version of Hamlet with Innokenti Smoktunovsky which is fine. And a magnificent version of Crime And Punishment with Smoktunovsky as Inspector Porfiry.
There is also a wonderful film of King Lear by Grigori Kozintsev.
I definitely second The Return. Saw that one a few years ago, and it was very rewarding. A haunting and beautiful movie.
I just found Mother and Son at none other than my local library. Initially, I was fairly underwhelmed. Sure, the movie is beautifully shot, and definitely unique, but it seemed to just crawl along.
In retrospect however, this movie was definitely quite moving, and it has kind of grown on me already, just one day after watching. Worth checking out, but it definitely had its drawbacks.
Up next to watch is Russian Ark.
Ilya Khrjanovsky’s 4 is pretty good.
I’m not sure how I felt about The Return. I definitely got the metaphors of old Russia – new Russia. It was certainly bleak enough.
RUSSIAN ARK by sokurov is amazing, plus it’s about russian history