Celebrating the ‘Year of Russian Cinema’
Watching films is a great way to practise your Russian. Even if you keep the subtitles on, you’re still getting yourself used to the sounds and flow of the language. It’s also a great way to find out more about the culture and history of the countries that speak the language you are studying. As 2016 has been named the ‘Year of Russian Cinema’, what better time to start deepening your knowledge of the art form?
- ‘Leviathan’, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014
‘Leviathan’, or ‘Левиафан’, was nominated for the Academy Award for best foreign language film, and won the Golden Globe for the same category. The film is, in my opinion, both bleak and beautiful, and technically very impressive. This film was particularly controversial upon release, as many Russian officials believed it presented Russia and a harsh and negative light. You can watch the trailer here.
- ‘Hard to Be a God’, Aleksei German, 2013
This film, called ‘Трудно быть богом’ in Russian’, is based on a Russian science fiction novel of the same name. It tells the story of a group of scientists who travel to a planet much similar to Earth, that is stuck in the middle ages. While the film received mixed praise in Russia, it was highly acclaimed by many foreign critics. You can check out the trailer to this impressive work here.
- ‘Elena’, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2011
Another piece directed by Zvyagintsev, ‘Елена’ tells the story of a woman and the lengths she goes to in order to secure a better future for her son and grandson. It’s an interesting image of class in Russia, and was referred to by critic Jim Hoberman as “the most vivid evocation… of Moscow’s contemporary society“. Here’s the trailer, so you can get a better idea of what this movie is about.
Russian has been quietly producing some of the best pieces of cinema, and the rest of us seem to have simply not noticed. While Spain, Latin America, and France are often considered powerhouses in producing top quality non-English language films, these three prove that Russia deserves to be recognised for the work it is producing.
Elara Shurety is currently studying Russian and interning at Liden & Denz.
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