Arts & Events

Russian and Middle Eastern Films You Might Enjoy

Margot Smith
Thursday June 20, 2019 - 03:54:00 PM

I've enjoyed these, didn't know that I was that interested in Russia until...

Good Russian Movies (In roughly chronological order):

Ivan the Terrible, Part I-- (1944) is set in sixteenth-century Moscow, where the newly crowned Czar Ivan attempts to thwart both the boyars (the feudal nobility) and the hold of the church to create a unified Russia. Part I follows Ivan from his coronation to his voluntary exile to Alexandrov to await his people’s summons.

Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great. (2014)--Great film, Katherine the Great from a modern perspective.The renowned Empress of 18th Century Russia and part of the Romanoff dynasty begins her journey as a German princess selected to marry Peter the Third, heir to the Russian throne and grandson of Peter the Great. 10 episodes. Filmed in Russia. (on Amazon Prime) 

War and Peace--It is no exaggeration to say that Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1960s adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy novel “War and Peace” is a singular feat of filmmaking that can never be repeated. In Revival. (NYTIMES) Restored.  

The Young Karl Marx--(2017)The early years of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Jenny Marx, between Paris, Brussels and London.- Biographic, really good 

The Death of Stalin (2017)--a comedy with Krushov and gang--Moscow, 1953. After being in power for nearly 30 years, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin takes ill and quickly dies. Now the members of the Council of Ministers scramble for power.  

Meeting Gorbechev (2019) Werner Herzog, the incisive documentarian engaged in a meeting of minds with 88 year old Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, architect of Perestroika and Glasnost and the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union. A long movie interesting to people really interested in this history. 

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966) Without hostile intent, a Soviet submarine runs aground off New England. Men are sent for a boat, but many villagers go into a tizzy, risking bloodshed. Funny at the time. Filmed in Mendocino. 

Red Sparrow--(2018) Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to 'Sparrow School' a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. But her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.modern spy thriller with Russia the bad guy. Rated R for violence and sex. 

The White Crow-(2017) Mockumentary --Young Rudolf Nureyev becomes a top ballet dancer in Russia, but a life-changing visit to Paris soon makes him seek asylum in France in 1961. 

Red Joan (2019) Very well done. Reminds us of the McCarthy era. With Judi Dench. 


And for history about eastern Europe, see: 

The End of the Ottoman Empire (2016)--This documentary offers an overview of the Ottomans, who ruled three continents for six centuries, and explains how the decline of the Ottoman Empire throughout the nineteenth century and up to 1925 informs current politics. Great movie, I saw it 3 times at BAMPFA.  

Letters from Baghdad (2017)-- Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), a character no less colourful, charismatic and compelling than Lawrence of Arabia. In this finely wrought documentary Tilda Swinton reads from the letters of the colourful and charismatic explorer, diplomat and archeologist who, along with TE Lawrence, shaped modern Iraq.