5 Good Russian Movies Dubbed in English
The biggest advantage of Russian cinema lies in its traditional acting school as well as exploitation of great Russian literature and complicated history. Each decade seemed to have a certain theme that dominated the mood in Russian film industry. For example, 30s films were all flavored with ruthless Soviet ideology and enforced enthusiasm. The 70s dealt with the decay of the Soviet man and so forth. After a brief decline in the late 80s to the mid-90s, Russian cinema revived and, using the latest computer technologies and equipment, it produces diverse films, predominantly set in present-day Russia.
The part 1 of the series contains a real treat: Enlgish-dubbed Russian movies! In general, foreign films professionally dubbed in English are rare to begin with. In the Soviet Union they dubbed only films nominated for international festivals. In the age of DVD it's a great feature, now we have the convenience of watching the action rather than reading it. A side note: in Russia no one watches subtitled movies: all foreign productions are dubbed in Russian. The part 2 of the series will present English-subtitled Russian movies. Most of them are available through either Netflix or Blockbuster.
Amphibian Man // Человек-амфибия (1961)
An exotic love story, which interwove utopian ideals, villains and science fiction under the Latino sun. All that, combined with bright color, ground-breaking underwater filming and faultless, if a bit overdramatic acting, keeps bringing new viewers to Amphibian Man five generations after it premiered.
Dr. Salvator is a prominent idealistic doctor who helps the poor and dreams of an underwater society free of wars and struggle for existence. When his son got sick, he transplanted him a young shark's lungs. His son named Ichthyander lives half time on land, half time in the sea, as he is capable to breathe under the water. Ichthyander saves a sinking girl and falls in love with her. To pursue his passion he gets out of his father's mansion and ventures into the city. Being completely unfamiliar with human life outside his father's castle (for example, he doesn't know the concept of money), he gets in trouble. He eventually gets to talk to her. At the same time, the girl is compelled to accept a marriage proposal from a cruel rich man, whom she doesn't love but who would pay off her poverty-stricken father's debts. That rich man is in pearl business and as he found out that the girl likes Ichthyander—"sea devil" as he is called by local fishermen—he starts his hunt for him...
It's a beautiful yet tragic story of burning love, reminiscing distantly that of Andersen's Mermaid.
Autumn Marathon // Осенний марафон (1978)
Don't worry there's no real marathon to watch. The forty year old professor Buzykin rushes to work, to his mistress, to his family, to his Danish guest and he is too weak to say no to all of them... hence the title. He is exploited, to his own great disadvantage, by his college friend, an incompetent translator, who relies on his work for her. He cannot choose between his wife and his mistress leaving both women frustrated. There's a great folksy character, neighbor Egor—whose only agenda is "where to drink and with whom?"—portraying a stereotypical Russian. Overall, it's a very good film, with a warm humor and European melancholy. Shot in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) in 1978, Autumn Marathon captures the middle-aged man's twilight.
Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears // Москва слезам не верит (1979)
This film won Oscar for the best foreign movie in 1979. A saga about a friendship of three women in two parts. The first part is set in 1958 and shows them as young girls from the country who came to "conquer" Moscow, the capital of the USSR. Life is hard for nobodies like them as they try to get into college, work and date prospective suitors. One marries a famous hockey player, the other marries a simple man, while the third gets pregnant from man who leaves her. The future looks grim...
The second part finds them twenty years later, in 1978, and shows the changes that have happened to them, their former husbands and boyfriends. The main character, a single mother, has become the director of a big factory and struggles to find a man who would be on a par with her status, or any man for that matter actually. I guess, by now you can say it's a total chick-flick done Russian style, but it's still one of the most popular Russian films.
The Barber of Siberia // Сибирский цирюльник (1998)
Set in the mid-1880s Imperial Russia, this melodrama feaures Julia Ormond and Richard Harris. It is a passionate story of love and betrayal set between the opulent halls of Russian aristocracy, fairy-tale winter scenes of the old Moscow and snow-clad spaces of Siberia. The director Nikita Mikhalkov deliberately employed the film as a vehicle for his traditionalist views on Russian identity, aspiring to show how proud one can be being Russian. The result was somewhat controversial. The fact that Mikhalkov played Czar Alexander III did not help. Accusations of nationalist chauvinism followed: after all, Mikhalkov is, indeed, a confirmed monarchist. But this most likely would be lost to the foreign viewer, for whom The Barber of Siberia should be simply a great beautiful story that answers the question if the price of love can ever be too high.
My other hubs on foreign movies
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If my first hub deals with Russian movies dubbed in English (what a treat, I know!), this one is more conventional, as I present five good Russian movies subtitled in English.
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