Are you learning the Russian language? A daunting task. Isn’t it? Well, there’s a fun way to improve your speaking and listening skills if you enjoy watching films! Whether you have just started out or at an advanced level, this list of 15 best movies to learn Russian can take you towards the Russian fluency.
Of all the language benefits, one such advantage is enjoying movies in the original tongue as made initially. While Russian isn’t one of the most sought after foreign languages, but it offers enough incentives and perks. From the cultural aspect to jobs requiring different lingos, there are infinite and compelling reasons to learn Russian.
Yes, there are some helpful language learning ways you can exploit to study Russian. If you’re a die-hard foreign language learner like me, relaxing with a textbook and a dictionary is an excellent way to fall asleep quickly. Now, what about movies? Believe me, you can spend endless hours in the nights watching movies while developing your language skills.
- Why Learning Russian Through Movies Is Great
- 15 Best Immersive & Enjoyable Movies to Learn Russian
- 1. Moscow Does not believe In Tears (Москва слезам не верит) — 1980
- 2. The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! (Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!) — 1976
- 3. Hipsters (Стиляги) — 2008
- 4. Leviathan (Левиафан) — (R) 2014
- 5. The Cranes Are Flying (Летят журавли) — 1957
- 6. Brother (Брат) — 1997
- 7. Loveless (Нелюбовь) — (R) 2017
- 8. Ballad of a Soldier (Баллада о солдате) — 1959
- 9. Stalingrad (Сталинград) — (R) 2013
- 10. Solaris (Солярис) — 1972
- 11. Legend No. 17 (Легенда №17) — 2013
- 12. The Postman’s White Nights (Белые ночи почтальона Алексея Тряпицына) — 2014
- 13. Burnt by the Sun (Утомлённые солнцем) — (R) 1994
- 14. Russian Ark (Русский ковчег) — 2002
- 15. The Mirror (Зеркало) — 1975
- Final Thought on Learning Russian with Films
Why Learning Russian Through Movies Is Great
Movies are an affordable and effortless means of acquiring a new language. You get immersed in what you are watching, and that sort of engagement opens up your listening comprehension skills far more than you can imagine. In return, you start building your thematic vocabulary (or developing a speaking appetite) while grabbing your attention and leaving you entertained.
Movies are an indispensable part of contemporary society in Russia. To study the Russian language successfully, you need to immerse yourself in the culture, and the only natural way you can do that is by watching Russian movies.
Russian is a tricky and challenging language to learn. And by viewing movies, even with subtitles will vastly enhance your listening and speaking skills and provide set phrases for natural conversations. Furthermore, it gives the audience a visual context for phrases and words you don’t comprehend, making it simple to gain new vocabulary as you see.
15 Best Immersive & Enjoyable Movies to Learn Russian
Russian filmmaking is one of the leading movie industry across the globe. While it does not have the popularity of Hollywood, nonetheless, it is a force to be reckoned for creative and innovative quality films.
So, grab your popcorn or candy, shut the world outside, and get hold of your TV remote. It is time to improve your Russian learning. Below are 15 movies to learn Russian and beats all the language learning hack you relied upon.
1. Moscow Does not believe In Tears (Москва слезам не верит) — 1980
If you want to know more about the state of life during the Soviet Union era, watch this movie to learn Russian.
The talkie tells the story of three girlfriends that went through a lot, starting from their teenage years to middle adult age. The friends finally find a good career and love in the Soviet capital—Moscow.
While this is not the typical action and engaging movie, it, however, delivers that first-hand view and understanding of what life is in communist Russia. It talks about the immense pressure on young girls in their search to find and marry the perfect man of their dream. The vocabulary is outlandish.
2. The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! (Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!) — 1976
This movie comes up on Russian TV on every New Year eve. It tells a story of two people who unknowingly switch apartments after getting drunk on one fateful night inside a sauna bath in Russia. The movie is a comedy that combines romantic escapades with New Year/Christmas winter’s cheer and Brezhnev blandness.
Language learners can expect some seasonal and conversational vocabulary. It is best for beginners and intermediate Russian learners who are interested in TORFL (Test of Russian as a Foreign Language).
3. Hipsters (Стиляги) — 2008
Regarded as one of the best Russian High-School Musical films, Hipsters delivers catchy songs with snappy dialogue. It tells the story of a group of individuals who loved the American culture back in the 1950s during the Soviet era.
While you may lose some vocabulary in the beautiful songs, the film is an easy option for all levels of Russian learners to follow.
4. Leviathan (Левиафан) — (R) 2014
Leviathan is one of the most modern Russian movies that gained immense popularity and won awards after its release. The film tells the story of an ongoing battle between a politician and a local man.
The cause of disagreement is the acquisition of a tiny piece of land. The film undoubtedly depicts the corruption menace in Russia and the plight of the ordinary person facing the people at the topmost position of power.
If you’re an advanced learner, this is the movie to see. The film includes a lot of political and legal jargon.
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5. The Cranes Are Flying (Летят журавли) — 1957
If you want to have a feel of the Soviet-era lifestyle, this is the film to watch. Set in the period of WW2, it is one of the few Russian movies to have won the Cane’s Film Festival.
The film tells the story of Boris and Veronica and the inglorious war that separated them. While they drafted Boris into the army to fight alongside Russia, Veronica was confronting many challenges caused by the war in Moscow.
The cinema is a great option for beginners and intermediate level language learners. Even without subtitles, you will gain an enormous deal of vocabulary, verb expressions, including military terminology.
6. Brother (Брат) — 1997
Here is a great flick with a thrilling storyline that talks about a young and energetic ex-conscript who came back home from the first Chechen war, only to end up in a life of crime. Brother is an action-pack thriller with widespread popularity in and out of Russia.
This crime film is better for advanced learners, thanks to its fast-pace dialogue, dialects, and slang.
7. Loveless (Нелюбовь) — (R) 2017
Loveless is an incredible drama that tells the story of two newly wedded and divorced parents who temporarily reunite when their 12 years old son went missing.
The movie depicts the present state of modern Russian society. It has a much more powerful vocabulary and complex grammar for language enthusiasts. You can watch the cinema using Russian or English subtitles, depending on your level of competence.
8. Ballad of a Soldier (Баллада о солдате) — 1959
If you love drama, this is one of the best to come out of Russia. The film is about a soldier returning from the battlefield after a successful campaign in WWII. And only to fall in love while on the way.
The vocabulary in this movie is overwhelmingly easy, making it perfect for all levels of Russian language learners. It also offers some nice military terminology that you can learn throughout the film.
9. Stalingrad (Сталинград) — (R) 2013
The name Stalingrad should ring a bell if you’re a student of political history and the event that defines WWII. It is also one of my favorite Russian movies.
Stalingrad is a fabulous epic action movie that tells the story of what happened in Stalingrad, the city where the Russian army and civilians withstood the German invaders for many months, a deciding factor in the war.
The vocabulary is straightforward throughout the entire film. No Russian language students should struggle to pick up words while viewing the movie.
10. Solaris (Солярис) — 1972
A 167 minutes long motion picture is a must-watch mystery if you love sci-fi genre. This movie follows the emotional and turbulence story of the crew members of one space station and the crisis that challenges them. The film is based on a science fiction novel written in 1961.
The dialogue used in this film isn’t that fast. However, some words are highly advanced, which makes it suitable for intermediate and advanced learners only. Beginners will find the lexicon and thesaurus a slightly hard to understand.
11. Legend No. 17 (Легенда №17) — 2013
The 1970s and 1980s Soviet Union team was the history’s most exceptional international ice hockey team. The best players of the time crossed spectacularly: each match and victory cost a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
The Legend No. 17 (Легенда №17), directed by Nikolai Lebedev, is a 2013 Russian biographical sports film based on the well-known ice hockey player Valeri Kharlamov. It has won several nominations and awards across the world. While some plots are a little cliché, but the film remains charismatic for introducing audiences to an exciting sport.
The biopic tracks the life of a legendary player Valeri Kharlamov, from adolescent years to the peak of his career and till his unfortunate demise. As one of the most remarkable sportsmen of his time, the picture brings decade-old sports back to life in the most entertaining way.
12. The Postman’s White Nights (Белые ночи почтальона Алексея Тряпицына) — 2014
Russia is a nation that extends over a massive expanse of Northern Asia to Eastern Europe. The irresistible beauty, mind-blowing landscape, natural splendor, and diversity gives unforgettable impressions. Because of the sheer size, many villages remain cut off from other parts of the country.
A postman is often the only way one can connect these people in remote areas. The movie “The Postman’s White Nights” narrates the story about one of the postmen — Aleksey Tryapitsyn.
The script shows stories based on real characters. Most actors, including, Aleksey Tryapitsyn (Lyokha) are not professional actors, but villagers. The film makes a familiar story into an engaging drama. It will surely bring you closer to the real-life characters. The vocabulary and expressions used in the movie are not complicated to understand.
13. Burnt by the Sun (Утомлённые солнцем) — (R) 1994
Nikita Mikhalkov recreated the 1930s era through this historical movie. The film narrates an intelligent allegory about a retired Russian officer Sergei Kotov who discovers he can’t escape Stalin’s purges when Dimitri visited his calm place outside Moscow. The story centers upon a single day in Serguei Kotov’s life.
Despite its dark subject, this Russian cinema shows a terrifying picture of those times through an honest storyline. It portrays each of the complex characters in detail and with love by a renowned director Nikita Mikhalkov. Burnt by the Sun won the Oscar in 1994 for Best Film In Foreign Language and the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.
14. Russian Ark (Русский ковчег) — 2002
The Russian movie industry has overwhelmed the international film scene by creating innovative and masterpieces over the last century, and the Russian Ark is no exception. It is a marvelous movie that condenses three centuries of Russian history, without chronological order, into a single, uninterrupted, 90-minute take.
The film centered on St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. The movie, shot in one take, is an experimental historical drama by Alexander Sokurov. This one-of-a-kind flick will take you to the fascinating and vivid imagination of Russia.
Of course, this isn’t for everybody. But if you want to witness an incredible and unique experience, this is a must-watch Russian movie. It brings a substantial supplement to your Russian classes in terms of historiography and Slavic culture.
15. The Mirror (Зеркало) — 1975
Andrei Tarkovsky directed several great movies, and The Mirror (Zerkalo) is the most acclaimed one. It’s a colorful mixture of childhood memories, historical events, and monochrome cinematic of Russia’s history.
The film is about a dying man in his forties who recalls his childhood, his mother, the war, and personal moments through flash-backs and historical footage. The story mixes thoughts about Russian history and society. This movie is an awesomely simple idea, and yet hugely complicated. If you’re an intermediate level learner, you can enjoy this with English subtitles. This is one of the incredible movies to learn Russian.
Final Thought on Learning Russian with Films
Learning the Russian language doesn’t have to be an arduous task. You can become a professional in the language you love by watching movies. With Russian films, the opportunity to get immersed in the language and its culture is endless.
Although there is an abundance of good Russian movies to learn Russian, the films, as mentioned above, can help you with your language studies. You better begin today. If you have questions or suggestions, write in the comment section below.