#31 The Hussar Ballad (1962)
A hussar has been forced to visit a girl he has been betrothed to since childhood. They have never met, but he happens upon a young cornet at her house and tells him all sorts of honesties about what he thinks of his betrothed and marriage in general. Only, unbeknownst to him, this cornet is, in fact, his betrothed, Alexandra. Having heard all the nonsense that the hussar has spouted, she decides to have some fun with him.
What follows is an amusing story where she becomes the hussar’s trusted friend in the guise of a cornet. The cornet also shares what the betrothed, his cousin, thinks of this hussar. It’s hard to tell what drives the hussar up the wall more: the strange affected manners and behaviour of his betrothed or the way her cousin claims she thinks of him. It’s a really fun gender-bender set during the Napoleonic war!
Watch it on YouTube in High Definition or Low Definition. Also available on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#32 The Star of Captivating Happiness (1975)
On the 26th of December 1825, circa 3000 soldiers of the Imperial Russian army revolted against the rule of Tsar Nikolai I in what came to be called the Decembrist Uprising. They failed to achieve their goal, so the surviving leaders were either hanged or exiled.
This film follows the lives and loves of the leaders of these Decembrists. From their lives as noble men before the uprising to their exile to Siberia. The film focuses on telling the stories of the women who loved and were married to the Decembrists. It depicts their struggle as they are cast away from society and denounced by their families when they decide to follow their loved ones to Siberia.
Watch it with CC subs on YouTube (PART 1 and PART 2) or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE. You may also want to check out The Barber of Siberia if you enjoyed this one. That one can be purchased on DVD.
#33 Only “Old Men” Are Going To Battle (1974)
“You don’t have to be a pilot. We’ll teach you how to fly regardless, but you have to be a musician! Wars come and go, but music is forever.”
A tragicomedy about WWII. For a film about war, it is filled with an enormous amount of joy and humour. Because a war is a temporary disruption while music, love, and friendships last forever. They will be here long after another war finishes even if not everyone who partook in the war will still be here to see it.
We follow a group of fighter pilots. The new pilots for the second squadron are selected based on their musical prowess. Adorably, when asking for past experience, all that the squadron leader wants to know is their musical experience rather than battle experience. So the “old men” train the newcomers in the fighter-pilot-craft while putting emphasis on the little things that bring people joy rather than the fact that they are at battle and that not everyone will make it back from their flights.
Watch it on Amazon Prime, Youtube, or SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#34 Eugene, Eugenia, and “Katyusha” (1967)
Follow the adventures of a young soldier (Eugene/ Zhenya) and the female soldier (Eugenia/ Zhenechka) that he is madly in love with. His entire platoon (“Katyusha” – the name of a type of rocket launcher) is head over heels for her too. So he is not without competition.
I call the events his adventures because Eugene has a wonderful way of narrating all the things that happen during the war as if they are in a regular fairy-tale. In reality, the events around him are far from fairy-tale-like. But he is utterly charming and has a wild imagination that both gets him into and out of trouble.
Watch it on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#35 Officers (1971)
A breathtaking masterpiece following the lives of two officers and the woman they both love. The events span the Russian Civil War and WWII and the times in between and after these events. It’s an excellent depiction of war, friendship, and love. You’ve never seen a bouquet of flowers delivered in such an unusual fashion! I guarantee that you will cry, but it’s worth it!
Watch it on Amazon Prime, YouTube, or SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#36 Wedding in Malinovka (1967)
This is a famous comedic musical set during the Russian Civil War. Infinitely quotable, there are dance scenes and declarations of love that take place in a small Ukrainian village. And, yes, that’s a windmill in the photo!
Watch it on YouTube or SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#37 The Cranes are Flying (1957)
The poster pretty much says it all! It’s a gorgeous film that starts off with two lovers sneaking off on innocent dates. Suddenly, the man throws a curve-ball by stating that he has enlisted to be a soldier in the war. Voluntarily! We then follow the events during the war from both of their respective perspectives and experiences to culminate with the return of the soldiers from the front at the end of the war. The scene where an entire town sends their young men to war and the closing scene where the surviving soldiers return to joyous music and tears in the streets are particularly powerful!
Available on YouTube, SOVIETMOVIESONLINE, and to buy on DVD.
#38 A Cruel Romance (1984)
“Like a moth to a flame, I yearned for that faraway place called love. Love, that magical land where I will be called dearest.
Where every day is incomparable and where I would not fear the stormy weather. That wonderful land called love: Only there can one find happiness.”
A famous tragedy about a beautiful young woman and the four men who partook of her ruin in their fervent desire to have her for themselves. Despite being of noble birth, she was very poor. Without a dowry, these men didn’t see her as a prospective bride but rather as a plaything. She was their object of desire and they saw her as nothing more than that. They took advantage of her love for one of them with tragic consequences.
Watch it on YouTube (PART 1 and PART 2) or on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
#39 My Tender and Affectionate Beast (1978)
Sometimes, this film is called A Hunting Accident or Shooting Party and it’s most definitely another tragedy. It’s a period drama set to the beautiful music of composer Eugene Doga. His Viennese waltz was composed specifically for this film and is now world-famous. It’s better to go into this film blind and experience the turn of events for yourselves.
Watch it on YouTube or on SOVIEMOVIESONLINE. Also available to buy on DVD. The subtitles on YouTube are several minutes ahead of the events on the screen, so try watching it on the other website or DVD, if possible.
#40 Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973)
“Don’t look down on seconds with disdain. The time will come when you will likely understand that, those moments, they whistle past your temple like bullets.
Each moment has its reason. It has its own bells and leaves its own mark.
Those moments, to some they hand out shame or disgrace while giving immortality to others … And such is life that you often spend at least half a lifetime just waiting for your moment to arrive.”
This story depicts the events of 17 days in the last spring before the end of WWII. It’s a masterpiece through and through. Arguably, there is only one romantic scene, but it’s a powerful one! Based on a best-selling series of books, this is a very well thought-out tale with a spot-on script.
Do not go into this expecting high action, speed chases, and gun fights. This mini-series has a quiet and contemplative mood about it. True espionage was a much quieter affair than most spy films suggest. One had to tread very carefully, and only fire that gun when absolutely necessary.
The quiet strength of Stirlitz is truly something to behold. I was surprised to find a few articles on this mini-series on the BBC website. They call Stirlitz, the Soviet James Bond. Check out the article here and another here, if you are curious. I’ve always considered this to be an excellent example of plain good storytelling, but one can always find other messages in stories if one chooses to.
It will appeal to many people, but as a comparison, you will probably enjoy this if you liked Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy (2011).
Watch it on YouTube. Also available on SOVIETMOVIESONLINE.
Head on over to the next page for even more Russian films.
6 thoughts on “50 Russian Films – A List of Some of the Best-Loved Comedies and Love Stories from Russia”
Oh my goodness, what a fabulous list. I feel like Christmas came early and will be adding many of these to my list of movies to watch.
Happy Early Christmas 😉
Wonderful list – thank you! I’ve watched a couple of these (Operation Y, The Diamond Arm) and The Irony of Fate has been on my to-watch list. Looking forward to these new recommendations, especially Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, Three Poplars, A Cruel Romance, The Cranes are Flying..and others! Also, I know it’s not a movie, but I love the Russian Sherlock Holmes! Do you have some particular favorites, if you had to choose? 🙂
To be honest, all these films are great, otherwise they wouldn’t have made the list 😉 But, my absolute favourites (which have been re-watched countless times!) are probably:
Office Romance (no.2 on above list)
An Ordinary Miracle (no.3)
That Very Same Munchhausen (no.4)
In Love By Choice (no.22)
Formula of Love (no.5)
But most of the others have been re-watched far too many times too 🙂
The Sherlock Holmes adaptations are highly appreciated, yes. I haven’t re-watched them since I was very little and given the choice tend to revisit the BBC Sherlock lately. I’m scared of watching it in case I don’t like it as much now, which is very silly. If there is one thing I strongly recommend NOT watching, it’s any Russian adaptation of Shakespeare. I can’t explain it, but it doesn’t feel anything like Shakespeare to me. His beauty definitely becomes lost in translation. Ha!
It sounds like you have a preference for love stories somewhat tinged with sadness from your picks above. So, you would probably enjoy numbers 50, 32, 33, 34, 35!, 39, 11, 29 in addition to those you chose.
Too funny – is my preference obvious? 😉 All the numbers you suggested were indeed the other films I thought I’d like to check out when I read the list! Yes, I really do like love stories with a bit of sadness. (My film review of a Good Rain Knows is a perfect example!)
Bullseye! I’m a bit surprised at the accuracy of my own aim 😉