Russian cinema is one of the most exceptional in the world. Even since the days of the tsar, Russian talented directors, screenwriters, and actors have experimented in producing good-quality and enjoyable movies. If you’re tired with Hollywood movies and looking for some variety, consider these titles for your next watch list.
1. The Irony of Fate (1957)
One of the best romantic comedy coming from Russia/USSR is The Irony of Fate. It’s a 1957 movie but the movie never gets old. Zhenya went to a sauna for his bachelor party on the new year eve. Apparently, he drinks too much and his friends mistakenly send him to an airplane to Moscow while he passes out.
After arriving in Moscow, Zhenya hails a cab and ask to be delivered to his home. Turns out there’s a street with the same name in Moscow, and since apartment complex in Russia during that time are all the same down to the key, Zhenya thinks he’s still in St. Petersburg.
Meet our leading female character here, Nadya, the real tenant of the apartment. When Zhenya gets sober the next day, chaos happens. It doesn’t help that Zhenya’s fiancee comes to pick him in Moscow and find him in an apartment with a strange woman. What happened next? You need to watch to find out.
2. Russian Ark (2002)
Russian Ark spoils the audience with a great visual. The movie captures the 300 years of Russian culture in one movie. The movie is the first feature film to be shot in one single continuous shot. 2000 actors participated in this movie, and the soundtrack is by 3 live orchestras. The set is 33 rooms of Winter Palace.
This movie is for you who want to experience Russian fine architecture, performing arts, and culture and tradition in one sitting. watching this movie is like joining an elaborate the Hermitage museum tour.
3. Night Watch (2004)
What if modern Moscow has vampires or other fantasy creatures? Night Watch explores the parallel universe of Moscow where there are some people who possess the peculiar capability. Equipped with fantastic CGI, the movie ensures the best movie experience for the audience.
Find out more about the urband legend in Russia here.
4. Leviathan (2014)
Leviathan is an award-winning movie, has won Golden Globe and Academy Awards among its numerous other awards. The movie tells a struggle about a man who’s about to get evicted from the land he lives. He had to fight a corrupt mayor who wants his land for personal gain. It’s a story about a common citizen versus government.
This movie is also one of the most controversial movies in Russia. The government, especially the minister of Culture, didn’t like it because he feels like so many stereotypes portrayed in the movie such as swearing and vodka, is not what real Russia is. Funny thing is the movie, one-third of its budget is funded by the government. The movie also raises public awareness in Russia especially regarding corruption in the country.
5. How I Ended This Summer (2010)
A young intern follows a difficult and temperate professor for scientific work in the Arctic. Set in the expanse of the cold north, How I Ended This Summer is a gut-wrenching movie with many allegories on life in Russia. The movie is critically acclaimed and won many awards, as well as the heart of the audience who enjoy a well-written psychological thriller.
6. Viy (Forbidden Empire) (2014)
A British cartographer Jonathan Green finds himself stranded in a Ukrainian village during the 18th century. It turns out that the village is not your regular idyllic countryside village. Talk about terrifying creatures and mysterious events. Jonathan Green tries to unravel the village’s mystery.
Viy is based on a dark fantasy novel with the same name by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. This book has been adapted to many movies before, but undoubtedly the 2014 version is the most polished of them all. Viewers are spoiled with awesome CGI as well as the 3D viewing experience. No wonder it easily reached box office status.
A sequel, Viy 2, is released in 2018. This time the budget is multiplied. Viy 2 is set in China, and this time, Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger joined the already amazing cast from the first movie, Jason Flemyng (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Charles Dance (Game of Thrones).
7. Three seconds (Going Vertical) (2017)
During the 1971 Olympic in Munich, Soviet basketball team was in a fierce match with the US basketball team, who was on 63 winning streaks. Originally the US team was appointed to be the winner by 1 point, however, a technical error during the last 3 seconds of the match revealed that it’s actually the Soviet team who won. This dramatic win is considered remarkable among Russians. Even the US never accepted their defeat.
Based on a true event, this sports drama won the hearts of so many people in the world. Going Vertical is the highest-grossing film of all time in Russia. It grossed over US$ 53 million over a budget of US$ 11 million.
8. The Irony of Fate 2 (2007)
It took 50 years for The Irony of Fate to have a sequel. Well, the movie is well-loved so it’s understandable if there’s a lot of pressure for an equally good sequel. The Irony of Fate 2, released in December 2007, tells a story about the children of Zhenya and Nadya who get into the same situation as their parents did.
The Irony of Fate 2 is well-received by the Russian audience. It became a box office hit, grossing $55 million over a budget of $5 million.