SOCCIS: Film Collections

European/Russian Studies Films & Videos

1. Andrei Rublev
From Andrei Tarkovsky, hailed as the greatest Soviet Director since Eisenstein, comes the epic Andrei Rublev, acclaimed as a masterpiece internationally and banned in the director's homeland. It is the dazzling and harrowing tale told with spectacle, beauty and nobility of the famed 15th Century icon painter who survives the cruelties of medieval Russia and creates works of art. These mesmerizing spiritual odyssey gives an inkling of man's desires and needs that are crushed in times of bloody Tatar raids, religious cruelty and pagan rites, making a profound affirmation of the spirit in the face of awesome adversity. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Andrei Tarkovsky. Running time: 185 minutes.

2. The Anna Akhmatova File
More than a simple portrait of the major 20th century poet, The Anna Akhmatova File is the moving and powerful examination of a violent century. In this documentary drama -- more engaging that is if it had been fiction -- a sensitive, lyrical and much loved poet, Anna Akhmatova, stands up to the brutal repression of Josef Stalin. Through extraordinary interviews and rare film footage, filmmaker Semeon Aranovitch examines the soul of a contradictory age in which Akhmatova -- whose work went unpublished for 17 ears -- became the conscience of a generation. Her poem "Requiem" became the underground anthem for the millions who suffered under Stalin. This unique encounter, which uses Akhmatova's diaries for text, also included portraits of Ahkmatova's friends and contemporaries -- Boris Pasternak, Cvladmir Mayakovsky, Mikhail Sostchenko. A riveting, unforgettable documentary. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Semeon Aranovitch. Running time: 65 minutes.

3. Ashes and Diamonds
Ashes and Diamonds is one of the clearest portrayals of a Communist Society ever made. The Conflict between idealism and instinct is revealed in the story of a Polish Resistance fighter who assassinates the wrong man on the last day of World War II. In this superb testament to the destructiveness of political fanaticism, Andrzej Wajda captures all the bitterness and disillusionment felt by the Polish people during the political struggle that followed the war's end. This is a startlingly haunting and fascinating film by a director with a flair for visual paradox and an eye for stunning imagery. In Polish with English subtitles. Director: Andrzej Wajda. Running time: 105 minutes.

4. Crime and Punishment
Lev Kulijanov's supremely authentic translation of Dostoevsky's great novel to the screen with Innokenti Smoktunovsky playing the Police Inspector Profiri and Georgi Taratorkin as the impoverished student-mirderer Raskolnikov. Perhaps he best performance, however, belongs to Tatyana Bedova as Sonia, the beautiful woman with the power of redemption. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Lev Kulijanov. Running time 220 minutes.

5. Earth
One of the undisputed masterpieces of the cinema, no single viewing of Earth will ever reveal all of its poetic brilliance. The third in a triptych of films by Ukrainian director Alexander Dovzhenko (after Zvenigora in 1927 and Arsenal in 1928), Earth is strikingly simple in plot. On the eve of the collectivization in the Ukraine, an old farmer dies peacefully in bed. His grandson Vasil has a new vision -- the village council -- will buy a tractor to be shared among the farmers. Struggling against superstition, Vasil is ultimately the victim of a tragic murder, but the dawn brings forth a new life and the promise of prosperity to the poor village. The story itself is secondary to the visually stunning and incredibly moving images that Dovzhenko creates. His love for the Ukrainian people and land intoxicates the viewer with the sensual splendors that fill the screen. In Ukrainian with English subtitles. Director: Alexander Dovzhenko. Running time: 69 minutes

6. Frontline: Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo
Young and in love, they might have had a long romantic life together -- had they not lived in Sarajevo. Admira Ismic and Bosko Brckic die in each other's arms on a bridge in Sarajevo, just yards from freedom. She was Muslim, he was Serbian. Frontline tells their poignant and painful story. This program contains graphic language and scenes and descriptions of violence. Viewer discretion is advised. Running time: 85 minutes.

7. The Inspector General
Gogol's famous play, performed by members of the Moscow Art Theatre, filmed by Vladmir Petrov. Gogol's work is a satire of provincial corruption in Czarist Russia. An entire town mistakes an illiterate worker for the Czar's Inspector General, and the corrupt official panic as they believe the man has come to check up on them. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Vladmir Petrov. Running time: 130 minutes.

8. I Was Stalin's Bodyguard
For over sixty years, Josef Stalin, one of the most powerful figures in the 20th century, a man who murdered millions, has remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, filmmaker Semeon Aranovitch takes the cloak off this enigmatic figure in his new, acclaimed documentary. The controversial film, which has played to sold-out houses throughout wherever it's been shown, would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. Now, the open policy of glasnost allows us to see into the dark crevices of a demented mind. Aranovitch found the last surviving personal bodyguard of Stalin who began to work for him in the 1930's. I Was Stalin's Bodyguard weaves together unprecedented, first-hand testimony with rare film footage, including Stalin's home movies. What emerges is a singular portrait of a violent and complex era during which Stalin consolidated his power through brutal repression and yet led the Soviet Union to victory in World War II. I Was Stalin's Bodyguard is as involving as a first-rate thriller. What makes it all the more powerful is the fact that everything is real. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Semeon Aranovitch. Running time: 73 minutes.

9. A Knife in the Water
Roman Polanski's first directorial effort vividly reveals his flair for character revelation and wit. The absorbing drama grows out of the tensions created when a couple, off for a sailing weekend, pick up a student hitchhiker. Middle-aged cocksureness, arrogance and incomprehension versus teenage revolt, with the young woman as a sort of arbiter, is the theme of this brilliant piece of cinematic storytelling. The ironic ending is driven home with Polanski inventiveness and style. A must see movie. In Polish with English subtitles. Director: Roman Polanski. Running time: 95 minutes.

10. The Kremlin: Inside the Hallowed Halls of Soviet Russia
The heart of Soviet Russia, the center of the Communist World is embodied in the Kremlin. Now for the first time ever, an American film crew is granted permission to enter and discover the rich treasures and history of the government and system whose ideology has swept half the modern world. From it's early beginnings to it's present base of power, this fascinating look at the Kremlin comes to us from award winning filmmaker Lucy Jarvis and told through actual Kremlin officials. The Kremlin won the Emmy Award for outstanding programming and the prestigious Gold Mike Award. Directory: Lucy Jarvis. Running time: approx. 60 minutes

11. Little Vera
The most controversial Russian film ever produced! Natalya Negoda stars as Vera, a sullen, sultry woman who's torn between her brooding lover and her bitter parents in this smoldering drama. The first film to celebrate Russia's new "open society," Little Vera is a daring look at a world of simmering sensuality and brutal candor. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Vasily Pichul. Running time: 110 minutes.

12. Oblomov
Oblomov lies in bed, pondering one vital earth-shattering question: Should he get up? Thus we meet one of the greatest creations in all Russian literature -- Oblomov, good-natured and indolent, with the mind of a reasonable man and the ambition of a giant sloth, wearily reclining while a procession of visitors pleads with him to change his ways. We are drawn to this strange figure in the same way as is the energetic Stolz or the beautiful and vivacious Olga. For Oblomov's idiosyncrasies are universal... and "Oblomovism" knows no class, no era, no country; it finds a home in every human heart. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Nikita Mikhalkov. Running time: 134 minutes

13. Oratorio for Prague
One of the most powerful documentaries ever made and a unique document of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Oratorio for Prague "is a film so moving that one is near tears from the first movement after the credits appear. The movie began as a documentary about the liberalization of Czechoslovakia and then simply continued when the Russian tanks moved in," wrote Renata Adler in The New York Times. The only film record of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the raw footage for this film, when broadcasted by television, was seen by more than 600 million people, and became the first information that the Soviet Army has not been "invited" in. The film also includes never-before-seen scenes from the Prague Spring before the invasion. "The movie is shot in a style so poetic an d gentle that the humanism and generosity of spirit, which seemed about to radiate from Alexander Dubcek and Czechoslovakia into the world, is there intact... The whole film is marked with the restraint and beauty of Jan Nemec's style." (NY Times) Director: Jan Nemec. Running time: 26 minutes.

14. Out of the Silence: Fighting for Human Rights
When it comes to human rights, the odds have always favored the abusers. This film is about changing the odds. It is a story of victory, tragedy and hope. A testament to the courage of those who struggle to defend their human rights. Director: Chuck Olin. Running time: 53 minutes.

15. Peter the First
A lavish, spectacular production, the first part covers the early years of the reign of Peter the First of Russia. Part Two is the conclusion. In Russian with English subtitles. Director: Vladmir Petrov. Running time: Part One - 102 minutes, Part Two - 100 minutes.

16. The Sea Gull
A sensitive, exquisitely acted version of Chekhov's great play, set in provincial Russia, a penetrating study of the languid melancholia of the residents of an isolated country estate. With Alla Demidova, Lyudmilla Savalyeva, Yuri Yakolev. In Russian with English subtitles. Director Yuri Karasik. Running time: 99 minutes

17. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestor (Wild Horses of Fire)
A sensuous panorama of starling intensity, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is the tragic tale of star-crossed lovers separated by a family feud. Sergei Parajanov, a persecuted filmmaker whose subsequent works were banned, interweaves dazzling visual imagery with a hypnotic musical score to tell the heartbreaking story of Ivan and Marichka, whose love blooms, only to die in the remote Carpathian Mountains of medieval Russia. Parajanov utilizes unreal colors, inventive camera angles and influences from experimental films, cinema-verite documentaries, the New Wave, and Japanese cinema for his powerful impressionistic treatment of a Carpathian legend. A uniquely magical vision that captures the soul of a people Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors created a sensation all over the world. In Ukrainian with English subtitles. Director: Sergei Parajanov. Running time: 99 minutes.

18. The Shop on Main Street
The first Czechoslovakian film to win an Academy Award translates the horrors of the Natzi Occupation into simplest of human terms. Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos combine pathos with humor to tell the heartbreaking story of the friendship that develops between an elderly, hard-of-hearing Jewish woman who own a button shop and the good-natured carpenter appointed by the Nazis as her Aryan controller. Renowned start of the Polish theater Ida Kaminska received an Oscar nomination for her remarkable portrayal of the frail old woman who fails to understand that she is no longer in charge of her humble shop - or her destiny. Josef Kroner costars as the gentle man who is ultimately forced to choose between protecting his helpless friend from her persecutors and saving his own skin. As timely today as when it was first released, The Shop on Main Street, addresses the complex issue of moral responsibility while illuminating the tragedy of racism. In Czech with English subtitles. Director: Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos. Running time: 128 minutes.

19. Sol'aris
The release of this remarkable science fiction film marked a milestone in Soviet cinema, and a distinct change of pace for Andrei Tarovsky, whose previous film was the controversial 15th century epic Andrei Rublev. Sol'aris, adapted from the science fiction novel by the respected Polish writer Stanislas Lemm, is one of those rare screen works which improves upon and deepens its literary source. The story deals with a series of expeditions to the planet Sol'aris - closely examining the ways the various earth scientists there interact among themselves and, more importantly, the ways in which they interact with each other's memories. "I find it one of the most original, most poetic, most beautifully paced science-fiction movies I've ever seen." (Jonas Mekas, The Village Voice). In Russian with Russian subtitles. Director: Andrei Tarovsky. Running time: 167 minutes.

20. War and Peace
Everything about this film of Leo Tolstoy's epic novel is of staggering dimension. Compared to the statistics of "War and Peace,: such conventional Hollywood terminology as "gigantic," "stupendous," and "enormous" must be translated to mean minuscule. Never in the history of film has there been a feature encompassing so much on so many levels. With a production budget cost of $100,000,000, there is no other contender for the claim that this is the most expensive motion picture ever made. It took no less than five years of active and concentrated production to complete "War and Peace." The picture was shot entirely in Russia and no picture has ever demanded more time and effort. By current inflationary standards, it has been estimated that a movie of this cope would cost Hollywood a half billion dollars to make today -- an impossible task! Never before has the phrase "cast of thousands" been so meaningful. In the staging on one battle scene alone, 120,000 soldiers were employed. The enormity of "War and Peace" can only be hinted at with the use of statistics -- 173 outdoor sets, over 100 indoor sets. It has been estimated that enough sets were constructed to supply the need of 15 ordinary full-length feature films. Props, including paintings, art treasures, weapons and books were borrowed from over 40 Russian Museums and libraries. It took 47 different businesses and factories working full time for five years to supply the clothing and equipment used in the picture. In addition to the military uniforms of many nationalities, including Russian, French Austrian, Italian and Polish, there were over 2000 separate and distinct civilian costumes, covering all strata of Russian society form the Tsar to peasant. The armed forces used 7000 swords and daggers, 16,600 hand grenades, 6600 smoke bombs, 4500 fuses, 160 artillery pieces, 120 wagons, 52 tons of smoke compound and 23 tons of gunpowder. The flame and smoke effects for the three major battle sequences consumes over 105,000 tones of kerosene. Director Sergei Bondarchuk's stress on authenticity shows up throughout the picture. No detail is too small to come under his personal scrutiny and that of his crew. In discussing the monumental task of turning "the greatest novel ever written" into a film, director Bondarchuk remarked that numerous approaches had been considered. "Our desire was always to convey that Tolstoy wanted to say with the utmost fullness and consistency," he said. "We have tried to involve the spectator in the events on the screen, to make him experience what Tolstoy's characters experienced and the atmosphere in which they lived. Dubbed in English. Director Sergei Bondarchuk. Running time: 6 hours.

21. The Wedding
Drama of Polish destiny shown a movie by Andrzej Wajda. Film based on drama by Stanislaw Wyspianski, shows a wedding of peasant's daughter with a poet. The Wedding is a deeply moving story that has been seen to be really appreciated. In Polish with English subtitles. Director: Andrzej Wajda. Running time: 103 minutes.

SOCCIS members may reserve titles by contacting:

Craig Adelman
Coordinators for the SOCCIS Film Collection
UCLA Instructional Media Collections and Services
46 Powell Library
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1517

(310) 825-0755 FAX (310) 206-5392