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Russian Cinema

Early films from the then Soviet Union had a shaky start due to the First World War and the October Revolution in 1917, but Lenin himself and later Stalin recognised the propaganda uses of the medium. At first, with the infrastructure in tatters and virtually no cinemas in which to screen films, shorts expounding communism were carried from place to place often accompanying live speakers. Once Moscow's first cinema was opened at the end of 1921, newsreels became common. But in 1924 Sergei Eisenstein's 'Strike' became the first true Soviet feature. The following year his 'Battleship Potemkin' was launched to great acclaim, highly propagandistic and towing the party line. Tight restrictions on content continued up until Stalin's death in 1953 and it wasn't until the '60s and '70s that seminal Russian film makers like Andrei Tarkovsky, Sergo Paradjanov and Nikita Mikhalkov began to find their own voice. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the largely state-funded film industry all but disappeared and is only now beginning to find its feet once more. A few gems found their way to Alice's shelves from this period, such as 'Burnt By The Sun' (1994), 'Prisoner of the Mountains' (1996), and our one and only Estonian film is to be found in this section, for want of a better home, the darkly humourous 'Darkness in Tallinn' (1993). 2002 saw the release of 'Russian Ark' (pictured), shot in one take, it is the longest unedited film ever made.

9th Company (2005)

7.1/10
Director: Fyodor Bondarchuck
Starring: Arhur Smolyaninov, Aleksei Chadov

What were the members of 9th Company expecting after surviving grueling basic training and deploying into Afghanistan? Surely not the brutality and th... Read more

Alexander Nevsky (1938)

7.7/10
Director: Sergei Eisenstein
Starring: Nikolai Cherkassov, Nikolai Okhlopkov, Dmitri Orlov

Sergei Eisenstein's magnificent battle-epic stars Nikolai Cherkassov as Prince Alexander, the leader of the people of Novogorod, defending Russia agai... Read more

Andrei Rublev (1966)

8.2/10
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Starring: Anatoly Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolai Grinko

Widely regarded as Tarkovsky's finest film 'Andrei Rublev' charts the life of the great icon painter through a turbulent period of 15th century Russia... Read more

Ashik Kerib (1988)

7.5/10
Director: Sergei Paradjanov
Starring: Yuri Migoyan, Sofiko Chiaureli

Based on a story by Russian author Mikhail Lermontov, Ashik Kerib has the texture of an ancient, oft-told tale. Yuri Mgoyan stars as a wandering troub... Read more

Attack on Leningrad (2009)

Director: Aleksandr Buravsky
Starring: Armin Mueller-Stahl, Gabriel Byrne, Mira Sorvino, Olga Sutulova

Aka 'Leningrad'. A soaring, action-packed journey of heroism and sacrifice as one crusading journalist desperately fights to uncover the horrors burie... Read more

Ballad of a Soldier (1959)

8.1/10
Director: Grigori Chukhrai
Starring: Vladimir Ivashov, Zhanna Prokhorenko, Antonina Maksimova

Aloysha is a frightened young soldier fighting the Germans when, more by good luck than good management, he disables two enemy tanks. As a reward he... Read more

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

8/10
Director: Sergei Eisenstein
Starring: Alexander Antonov, Vladimir Barsky

This landmark film was planned by the Soviet Central Committee to coincide with the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the unsuccessful 1905 Rus... Read more

Burnt by the Sun (1994)

8/10
Director: Nikita Mikhalkov
Starring: Oleg Menshikov, Nikita Mikhalkov, Ingeborga Dapkunaite

One of the first Russian films to deal openly with the Stalin purges, and a mesmerisingly beautiful chronicle of love, family, and the intrusion of po... Read more

Come and See (1985)

8.2/10
Director: Elem Klimov
Starring: Alexei Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Vladas Bagdonas

The thoroughly mesmerising chronicle of the initiation of a young teen (impressively played by Alexei Kravchenko) into the horror and insanity of war,... Read more

Day Watch (2006)

6.5/10
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshin, Vladimir Menshov, Dmitry Martynov, Alekse...

The long-awaited sequel to Russian fantasy flick, 'Night Watch', this bombastic goth-horror is equally entertaining and illuminates many of the myster... Read more