USSR

  • Georgiy Daneliya – Kin-dza-dza! (1986)

    Georgiy Daneliya1981-1990ComedySci-FiUSSR
    Kin dza dza! (1986)
    Kin dza dza! (1986)

    Imagine Andrei Tarkovsky circa SOLARIS directing Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and you’ll come close to the existential weirdness of the wonderfully loopy Soviet-era sci-fi comedy KIN-DZA-DZA!Two average Muscovites – a plainspoken construction foreman (Stanislav Lyubshin) and a Georgian violin student (Levan Gabriadze) – encounter an odd homeless man on the street who asks, “Tell me the number of your planet in the Tentura?”In a flash, they’re teleported across the universe to the planet Pluke in the Kin-Dza-Dza galaxy – a Tatooine-like desert world whose inhabitants are hilariously noncommunicative (their main words are “ku” for good and “kyu” for very bad) and where common wooden matches are tremendously valuable. A deadpan, absurdist mixture of Kurt Vonnegut, Monty Python, Samuel Beckett and Jodorowsky’s never-made Dune where alien cultures are even more haphazard and WTF? than our own, the film is also a savage satire of bureaucratic idiocy and dysfunction no matter what political system you’re living under – or what planet you’re living on.Read More »

  • Sergei M. Eisenstein – Stachka AKA Strike (1925)

    1921-1930PoliticsSergei M. EisensteinSilentUSSR
    Stachka (1925)
    Stachka (1925)

    A group of oppressed factory workers go on strike in pre-revolutionary Russia.

    Matthew Rovner, Jewish Daily Forward wrote:
    On February 13, 1948, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency announced that film director Sergei Eisenstein, “the son of a Jewish merchant,” was dead at the age of 50. Eisenstein’s father was a prosperous German Jew and his mother Russian Orthodox. Eisenstein grew up highly assimilated, though he was aware of his Jewish heritage. He was friendly with Isaac Babel, and he learned to use Yiddish slang and humor. But Eisenstein’s Judaism had always been marginal to his work as an artist. In his first feature, “Strike,” a serious propaganda film, there is humor, although it is influenced more by Charlie Chaplin than Sholom Aleichem.Read More »

  • Mikhail Kalatozov – Vikhri vrazhdebnye AKA The Hostile Whirlwinds (1953)

    Mikhail Kalatozov1951-1960DramaUSSR
    Vikhri vrazhdebnye (1953)
    Vikhri vrazhdebnye (1953)

    The movie narrates the first years of the formation of the Soviet power, concentrating on the life and activities of F. Dzerzhinsky in 1918-1925.

    In July 1918, as a result of a rebellion of the left SRs, the German ambassador Wilhelm von Mirbach is killed. Felix Dzerzhinsky alone goes to the headquarters of the left SRs and anarchists, he manages to sway to his side the simple soldiers and sailors, participants of the mutiny, who in turn deal with their leaders.Read More »

  • Mikhail Kalatozov – Zagovor obrechyonnikh aka Conspiracy of the Doomed (1950)

    Mikhail Kalatozov1941-1950DramaPoliticsUSSR
    Zagovor obrechyonnykh (1950)
    Zagovor obrechyonnykh (1950)

    The film reflects the period of the “cold war” of the early 1950s. In one of the countries of Eastern Europe, the construction of a new state system comes up against active resistance. An anti-democratic conspiracy is maturing: at the instigation of the ambassador, an assassination attempt against the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic, the Communist Gannu Licht, is being organized. The Soviet Union helps the communists and detachments of armed workers arrest the conspirators.Read More »

  • Mikhail Kalatozov – Neotpravlennoye pismo aka The Letter Never Sent (1960) (HD)

    Mikhail Kalatozov1951-1960AdventureArthouseUSSR
    Neotpravlennoye pismo (1960) (HD)
    Neotpravlennoye pismo (1960) (HD)

    The film is based on the eponymous book by Valery Osipov. Four geologists are searching for diamonds in the wilderness of Siberia. After a long and tiresome journey they manage to find their luck and put the diamond mine on the map. The map must be delivered back to Moscow. But on the day of their departure a terrible forest fire wreaks havoc, and the geologists get trapped in the woods.Read More »

  • Kira Muratova & Aleksandr Muratov – U krutogo yara AKA On the Steep Cliff (1962)

    Kira Muratova1961-1970Aleksandr MuratovDramaUSSR
    U krutogo yara (1962)
    U krutogo yara (1962)

    In this Russian adventure, a young peasant proves himself smarter than a wily pair of wolves. The trouble begins when he is assigned to hunt and kill them. Since they are not easily shot, he decides to take a different tack and let the creatures get to know and trust him. The locals begin to mistrust the lad’s motives and think that he may be a little off. Fortunately, he proves himself by sneaking into the wolves’ den, taking a cub, and then killing the parents when they come back.
    Sandra Brennan (allmovie.com)Read More »

  • Vera Stroyeva – Boris Godunov (1954)

    Vera Stroyeva1951-1960MusicalUSSR
    Boris Godunov (1954)
    Boris Godunov (1954)

    quote from Amazon user: A complement I say, as this not being complete (well, I’d better say severely truncated) it cannot be your sole Boris in a collection; necessary I add, because it preserved a sizable portion of the title part, as portrayed by one of its foremost exponents ever, the great russian bass Alexander Pirogov. This incompleteness is only implied but not clearly stated in the disc’s box, which should advise would-be purchasers. So what you get is some kind of “extended highlights” of this, arguably the greatest of russian operas and certainly the most popular. It is a film by Vera Stroieva, made in 1954 as part of a project dear to soviet authorities of putting into film both the lives of Russia’s greatest artists and adaptations of their works, to “educate the masses” and of course not being entirely without some ideological hints (or rather more than mere hints).Read More »

  • Aleksandr Alov & Vladimir Naumov – Legenda o Tile AKA Legend About Thiel (1977)

    Aleksandr Alov1971-1980AdventureDramaUSSRVladimir Naumov
    Legenda o Tile (1977)
    Legenda o Tile (1977)

    This TV miniseries is based on the book “La légende et les aventures héroïques, joyeuses et glorieuses d’Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak au pays de Flandres et ailleurs”, by belgian XIX century author Charles de Coaster, which, in turn is based on the popular German renaissance text “Ein kurzweiliges Buch von Till Eulenspiegel aus dem Lande Braunschweig”, by Hermann Bote. The story is set at the time of religious wars and turmoils following the protestant reformation and the hero fights for the freedom of his country from Spanish occupation and from the holy inquisition. The fist parts of the film are devoted to showing the atmosphere of oppression in the Netherlands at the time, with people being reported to the inquisition by envious neighbors and burned at the stake on flimsy excuses, when the real goal is for the king to get hold of their riches.Read More »

  • Vladimir Erofeev – Pamir, krisha mira AKA Roof of the world (1928)

    1921-1930DocumentarySilentSoviet silent cinemaUSSRVladimir Erofeev
    Pamir, krisha mira (1928)
    Pamir, krisha mira (1928)

    Film-maker Vladimir Yerofeyev (1898-1940) was a pioneer of expedition cinema in the Soviet Union, advocating for increased attention and investment in edifying non-fiction films made to win the interest of broad audiences. Pamir. Roof of the World, 1927, is his second feature film, and the first resulting from an expedition (his debut that same year, Za poliarnym krugom [Beyond the Arctic Circle] was a co-edited compilation film). In summer 1927, a trek to the mountainous Pamir region, known as the “Roof of the World”, in present-day Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, was organized by the Sovkino studio in co-operation with the Geological Committee. Yerofeyev worked with prominent geologist Dmitrii Nalivkin and ethnographer Mikhail Andreyev; both scholars had extensively researched the area and contributed to the planning for the crew’s journey.Read More »

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