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Five movies in Russian that you must watch. Пять фильмов на русском, которые вам нужно посмотреть.

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Richard from Russian Film Hub and I discussed five amazing Soviet movies that everyone has to watch at least once. Practice your listening skills and learn more about the culture and people of USSR. You can watch these movies with subtitles for free on Russian Film Hub.

#1 Бриллиантовая рука | The Diamond Arm (1970)

The Diamond Arm (Бриллиантовая рука / Brilliantovaya ruka) is one of the most beloved Soviet comedies, directed by Leonid Gaidai.

In a Black Sea port town, a criminal gang operates by smuggling precious coins, gems, and jewelry into the USSR and then laundering them by “discovering” the treasures hidden underground. In a short time, the sweet, naive family man, Semyon Gorbunkov (Yuriy Nikulin), will become entangled with this gang and their conspiracies.

When Semyon sets out on a cruise, as luck would have it, he shares his cabin with the dashingly handsome Gennady (Gesha) Kozodoyev (Andrey Mironov), a member of the gang. They immediately begin a genuine friendship.

During a port stop in Istanbul (filmed in Baku, Azerbaijan), Gesha separates from Semyon to collect contraband jewels. Gesha’s plan is reveal himself to his criminal contacts by giving a secret signal. The signal consists of falling on the ground and crying the phrase, “Damn it” (Чёрт побери! / Chort poberi). However, Semyon, lost and on his own, accidentally does exactly what Gesha was supposed to do. Semyon slips, cries the secret signal, and wakes up to his arm being layered with jewels under a plaster cast.

Once Semyon and Gehsa are back home, a hilarious cat and mouse game begins. Semyon works with the police to act as bait for the criminals. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Semyon, Gesha repeatedly conspires to remove Semyon’s cast by various ludicrous means.

#2 Собачье сердце | Heart of a Dog (1988)

Heart of a Dog (Собачье сердце / Sobachye syerdtsye) is a Soviet film directed by Vladimir Bortko in 1988. The film immediately achieved international acclaim and within a few years came to be recognized as a masterpiece back home too. The movie is an adaption of Mikhail Bulgakov’s eponymous novel.

It’s 1924, Moscow. Professor Preobrazhensky (Evgeniy Evstigneev) conceives a remarkable experiment. He transplants human pituitary and seminal glands to a stray dog that has moved into his apartment. The results of the operation are incredible. The dog, Sharikov (Vladimir Tolokonnikov), physically transforms into a man who is able to speak.

Despite the initial success of the experiment, though, things quickly take a turn for the worst.

#3 Иди и смотри | Come and See (1985)

Come and See (Иди и смотри / Idi i smotri) is a harrowing Soviet war movie directed by Elem Klimov in 1985. The film is based on the 1978 novel, I Am from the Fiery Village (Я из огненной деревни / Ya iz ognennoj Derevni) by Ales Adamovich. Together Klimov and Adamovich wrote the film’s screenplay.

The film has come to be considered one of the greatest war films of all time.

The invasion of a village in Byelorussia by German forces sends young Florya (Aleksey Kravchenko) into the forest to join the weary Resistance fighters, against his family's wishes. There he meets a girl, Glasha (Olga Mironova), who accompanies him back to his village. On returning home, Florya finds his family and fellow peasants massacred. His continued survival amidst the brutal debris of war becomes increasingly nightmarish, a battle between despair and hope.

#4 Добро пожаловать, или посторонним вход воспрещён | Welcome, or No Trespassing (1964)

Elem Klimov's satirical comedy about the excessive restrictions that children face during their vacation in a Young Pioneer camp.

A boy sneaks back into a swim camp after he is kicked out to avoid upsetting his grandmother.

#5 Москва слезам не верит | Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1980)

It is one of the most beloved Soviet films of all time. Made in 1980, it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film the following year.

Living together in a workers' dorm, Katerina (Vera Alentova) and her friends are determined to make it in Moscow. But when a boorish cameraman (Juri Wassiliev) forces himself on her, Katerina finds herself pregnant and alone as her friends move on. Twenty years later, she's fought to become a factory director, outpacing her old roommates career-wise, but still alone but for her daughter. When she meets a genial mechanic (Aleksey Batalov), love seems possible again.

What other Soviet movies can you recommend?

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