Category: Soviet Era

Soviet Film Wednesday: The Scarlet Flower

The Scarlet Flower (Аленький цветочек, Alenkiy tsvetochek) is a popular Russian folktale based on Sergey Aksakov’s rendition of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Similar to the traditional tale, it begins when a merchant father, Stepan Yemelyanovich, asks his three daughters what gifts they would like from his travels. The oldest daughter, Gordeya, wishes for …

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Soviet Film Wednesday: Mirror

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and much like Norstein’s animation Tale of Tales, Mirror (Зеркало, Zerkalo) is another stream of consciousness film that strings together memories. The film is not meant to symbolize anything, but rather uses intuition as a means of expression. The main character, loosely based on Tarkovsky himself, is a dying poet contemplating his …

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Soviet Film Wednesday: The Little Mermaid

This wonderfully illustrated 1968 Russian animation is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. It begins with a Copenhagen tour guide’s introduction to Andersen’s story, which is not quite the same as the Disney version. As is usually the case, the older tale is much darker. Much of the imagery in this animation is also dark, yet …

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Soviet Film Wednesday: Children and Matches

Yuri Norstein gives us a clever, stylized public service message in this 1969 short cutout animation, Children and Matches.

Soviet Film Wednesday: Walking the Streets of Moscow

Walking the Streets of Moscow (Я шагаю по Москве, Ya shagayu po Moskve) is a lighthearted look at everyday city life in Moscow for youth in the ’60s. We see an opening scene in the airport, city sidewalks in the rain, taxi rides through the streets, evening traffic flows, and a concert in Gorky park. …

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Soviet Film Wednesday: Ivan’s Childhood

Ivan’s Childhood (aka My Name is Ivan) was made in 1962, and is widely regarded as one of the most skillfully crafted films of all time. It is directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and stars a young Nikolay Burlyaev. The film delves into the impact of war on young Ivan, a twelve year old orphan who befriends …

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Soviet Film Wednesday: Hedgehog in the Fog

Today we have another wonderful Yuri Norstein film, Hedgehog in the Fog.  Norstein is best known for this animation, as well as his Tale of Tales.  Hedgehog in the Fog was directed by Norstein, written by Sergei Kozlov, with music by Mikhail Meyerovich.  It was produced by Soyuzmultfilm in 1975. It is the story of a hedgehog and a bear cub who …

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Soviet Film Wednesday: Stalker

The enigmatic sci-fi film Stalker, released October 20, 1982, is arguably Andrei Tarkovsky’s most haunting piece. It’s a quiet, slow drip of a film that was based on the 1972 short story Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. In an unknown place and time lies a heavily guarded desolate wasteland, shrouded in secrecy, called The …

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Through the Looking Glass with Andrei Tarkovsky

Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky was born on April 4, 1932, in Zavrazhye, Soviet Union. His mother, Maria Vishnyakova, attended the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute and worked as a corrector, and his father was the renowned poet Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovsky. Andrei Tarkovsky is well known for his reflective, natural, and dreamlike themes and sequences, as well …

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Soviet Film Wednesday: Thank You

Thank You (Spasibo, Спасибо) is a hand-drawn 1973 animation directed by Vladimir Tarasov, who is best known for his Soviet science fiction films Contact (1978), Contract (1985), and The Pass (1988). In Thank You, a group of polite children take a field trip to learn about airplanes. Click the “cc” icon for subtitles.