The Orthodox New Year is still two weeks away, which makes for a very festive fortnight in Moscow and throughout Russia and other Orthox countries. We supposedly have Bulgakov’s The Days of the Turbins to thank for Stalin finally relenting to allow a New Year Tree in Moscow in 1937, but it was only after his death that holiday movies began to appear. There have been a few attempts to create a new holiday movie to replace the time honored Carnival in Moscow (1956), but only a relative handful have been worth remembering. My favorite is The Irony of Fate (1975). There was an attempt to update this film in 2007 but it fell quite a bit short of the original, even with Andrey Myagkov, Barbara Brylska and Yuri Yakovlev reprising their roles. Eldar Riazanov couldn’t leave his Carnival alone either. He chose to reprise it in 2006. Snegurochka , or the Snow Maiden , has been done several times, but it is the 1969 film that is the gem. Other notable holiday films include Morozko, aka Jack Frost, Pokrov Gates, featuring a young Oleg Menshikov, Charodei , or the Magicians, and Come Look at Me with the late great Oleg Yankovsky. There’s even this great Christmas Eve tale based on a story by Gogol, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka. There is also this odd musical, This Merry Planet , where aliens visit the Soviet Union during a New Year’s Eve celebration, and blend right in. And, of course, the immortal Snow Queen (Снежная королева) from 1966, and an earlier animated version from 1957, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale.
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