Many have said that to fully immerse yourself in a language, you need to try to comprehend their way of thinking. But, to understand their way of thinking, first of all, you need to speak their language. Like it or not, you can’t deny that learning a language of your destination country, especially if you plan to stay there longer than any normal tourists will ever do, is as important as the air itself. Learning the local language will not only help you in daily life situations, but also will help you adapt better and faster, reducing homesickness that sometimes attacks you out of the blue.
One of the best ways to learn a language is by watching some local movies. I recall that some years ago, at the time when I knew nothing about Russian and my knowledge of that language was just no more than ‘hello, i want to buy a sugar, how much does it cost?’, the first movie I watched (If it could be categorised as a movie) — was Masha and the bear. I don’t dare to say that this cartoon is useless for improving language, it can be useful sometimes, especially to kill time, but you had better choose something else if you think you want to improve your sexy Russian accent even by a little.
Despite its image as a country of people with serious faces and unfriendly manners or as a gloomy cloudy snowy country with thousands of villains speaking with thick Russian accents like Hollywood usually describes it, Russia has a handful of good, unique sometimes loopy, classic movies, worth seeing, especially as they were produced during the Soviet’s time. Some of my favorites are:
Ivan Vasiliyevich: Back to the Future (1973)
A light comedy movie that is based on the play Ivan Vasiliyevich by Mikhail Bulgakov. The story is about a young persistent scientist, Alexander Timofeev, trying to create a time machine. By accident, he sent the superintendent of his apartment building and a burglar back to the era of Ivan the Terrible. Due to its surprisingly similarity between the superintendent and Ivan the Terrible, the superintendent was forced to disguise himself and pretend to be the Tsar, while the Tsar himself was sent by the same machine to Alexander’s apartment. To fix the situation, Alexander tried to repair his time machine so everyone can be brought back to their proper place in time.
Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures (1965)
Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures’ stories were divided into three segments: ‘Workmate’, ‘Deja Vu’, and ‘Operation Y’. In this movie, not only can you practice your listening, but also learn about what happened during the Soviet period, starting from university life until the sentences inside the Community Services.
Kidnapping, Caucasian Style! (1967)
If you are not bored yet by Shurik’s pretty gnarly adventure, this movie should be included in your Russian movies’ list. The story itself is not about crime, but mostly about a nuptial culture involving a bride kidnapping that used to exist in certain regions of the Northern Caucasus. Using the local culture as an excuse, Saakhov who was keen on having Nina as a wife, asked her uncle to kidnap her as both knew that was hard to get her agreement for marriage.
The Diamond Arm (1969)
Finally, it’s not about Shurik anymore. Featuring several Soviet actors such as Yuri Nikulin and Andrei Mironov, The Diamond Arm is considered a Russian cult film. It means that (almost) every Russian has watched it at least once in their lifetime. And what’s the movie about? To give you a hint, the keywords are diamond, criminal, smuggling, and orthopedic cast.
Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia (1974)
Shot in St.Petersburg and starring both Soviet and Italian actors, the movie tells a story about a group of Italian treasure hunters who set off on a journey to grab a long forgotten treasure in Leningrad (a.k.a St. Petersburg). They are subsequently followed by a girl whose grandmother had migrated to Italy a long time ago. Before her death, her grandmother confessed that she actually belonged to a rich aristocratic bloodline. Unfortunately, the revelation was overheard by a doctor, two male nurses, an italian mafioso, and a patient with leg injury. Soon after that, they all decided to follow her and find the treasure first.
The movie is quite entertaining, especially to see how these people from two different countries spoke in their own languages without understanding each other. So, for those of who are taking onItalian and Russian at the same time, this movie will be a high priority on your list.