Are you fascinated by Russia? I am definitely in love with Russia. Born in Western Siberia, in the city of Surgut, and raised by a Russian mother I am always in owe by this immense and diverse country. However, before talking about the country Russia as a destination, there is something intangible called “Russian soul”. This is something Russian people are born with and they cultivate their whole life. As half Russian, I am proud to announce that I have it myself too.
While I was wondering how to describe “Russian soul” to my acquaintances, one day I heard a question on a TV show that stated “Which movie describes the best Russian soul?” and that was it !!! The answer was there! These four movies that I selected “The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!” – part 1 and 2; “Moscow does not believe in tears”, “The Barber of Siberia“ and last but not least “Kidnapping, Caucasian Style” describe the best “Russian soul”. Hence, I highly recommend watching those four movies in order to have an idea of what does it mean “Russian soul”.
“The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! – part 1 and 2
The Irony of Fate has become the symbol of New Year’s Eve in Russia. This is an absolute must-see movie on the 1st of January after a big soiree of celebrating the upcoming year. “The Irony of Fate” provides a complete picture of the significance of the New Year’s Eve celebration for Russian people during the Soviet era. “The Irony of Fate 2: Continuation” is a contemporary version of the feast nowadays. Continue reading to understand how this movie describes the “Russian soul”.
Long story short that describes Russian soul
The key to understand life in Russia during Soviet era is in the grey uniformity of the apartment builfings. This is imposed by the government and as a result every neighbourhood in every single city looks exactly the same as any other neighbourhood in former Soviet union.
The Irony of Fate itself
As an annual tradition, a group of friends go to a Russian banya in Moscow to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The friends drink for the forthcoming marriage of the main male character in the movie – Zhenya Lukashin to Galya. Once the bath has finished, Pavlik, one of the friends, has to go on a plane to Leningrad. Zhenya, on the other hand, is supposed to go home to celebrate with his fiancee Galya. Both Zhenya and Pavlik get completely drunk. Their sober friends cannot remember which one – Pavlik or Zhenya has to go to Leningrad. Thus, they put Zhenya on the plane instead of Pavlik.
At some point, the real ower of the apartment Nadya comes back home and sees a man sleeping in her bed. At the same time Nadya’s fiance, Ippolit introduces himself before Nadya manages to persuade the intruder to leave. Ippolit gets angry and cannot believe that Nadya does not know Zhenya. Nadya tries to get rid off of the unwelcomed guest, but the earliest flight to Moscow is on the next morning. In parallel, Zhenya calls Moscow to explain to his girlfriend the situation. When he reaches Galya, she is furious and does not want to listen. Ippolit (Nadya’s boyfriend) also calls Nadya’s apartment and hears Zhenya answering the phone. Total confusion! Suprisingly, Zhenya and Nadya spend the New Year’s Eve together and understand the irony of fate.
When Zhenya wakes up, he is already at the Leningrad airport. However, everything looks like in Moscow. He catches a taxi and, gives the driver his address. Due to the uniformity of the regime, there is a street with the same name in Leningrad as the one where Zhenya lives in Moscow. Needless to say, the building looks the same. The key fits perfectly in the door of the apartment and, surprise, surprise, the number of the apartment is the same. The interior is the same as well. As a consequence of alcohol, Zhenya falls asleep immediately.
Due to their first impression, Nadya and Zhenya continue to treat each other with dislike, despite the fact they have to spend the festive evening together. However, as they get to know each other, they fall in love. In the morning, they realize that they have to put an end to this love story. Devasted, Zhenya goes back to Moscow. Meanwhile, Nadya realizes that she can be happy only with Zhenya. She flies to Moscow and has no difficulties finding Zhenya as their addresses are the same.
The Irony of Fate 2: Continuation. Thirty years later….
Furthermore, the characters from the first part now have children who, by irony of fate, get into the same situation as their parents 30 years ago. Therefore, the story is not simply a deja vu of the original first part. In the second part it seems like everything happens following a plan envisioned by Pavlik “the friend” of Zhenya Lukashin.
On the other hand, Pavlik’s mischievous plan is to help his friend Zhenya to overcome his loneliness and his idea is to send Zhenya’s son to Saint Petersburg and to find Nadya. Ironically, Konstantin (Zhenya’s son) meets Nadezhda – Nadya’s daughter from the first part. She is about to marry Irakliy, a businessman. Kostantin’s goal is to chase away Irakliy from the apartment and wait for Nadezhda’s mother to come. Once the mother appears, he has to call his father and ask him to join them.
The movie follows two parallel love stories: Konstantin and Nadya and Zhenya and Nadezhda. At the end the Lukashins (father and son) win!
To sum up, I love this movie and do not miss it out every 1st of January. It reveals rich “Russian soul” at its fullest!
“Moscow does not believe in tears” describes the best “Russian soul”
The second movie that describes the best “Russian soul” is “Moscow does not believe in tears”. This is one of the best movies of all times. The soundrack of the movie is emblematique and the name Alexandra has become a trend after the success of the movie. “Moscow does not believe in tears” reveals at the fullest the sensitivity and the compexity of “Russian soul”. Through the personal drama of Katerina, a full range of deep feelings pop up on the surface.
The movie is set up in Moscow. The main characters Katerina, Lyudmila, and Antonina come to Moscow to conquer the capital. Antonina is dating Nikolai, whose parents have a dacha (a villa) outside the city. Katerina is a self-made woman who studies chemistry and works at a factory. One day, her rich relatives from Moscow ask Katerina to stay in their apartment while they are on a trip. Her friend Lyudmila who is looking for a wealthy husband, convinces Katerina to organise a party at the apartment. The ladies pretend to have noble origines in order to become more attractive for Muscovite men.
Furthermore, Lyudmila meets Sergei, a hockey player, who finally marries her. Katerina on the other hand meets Rodion who works in the television. As a result they start dating. At Antonina and Nikolai’s wedding, the girlfriends discover that Katerina is pregnant. Rodion, on the other hand, does not want to marry Katerina and asks her to have an abortion. Katerina refuses and keeps the baby.
An emblematique scene in the movie is when Katerina sets the alarm clock in a rental workers’ room while baby Alexandra is sleeping. 20 years later, Katerina is about to wake up of an alarm clock in her own apartment. She lives with her daughter Alexandra and meanwhile has become the executive director of a big factory. Despite her success, Katerina is not happy. Lyudmila, Antonina and Katerina are still close friends. Lyudmila has divorced Sergei who has become an alcoholic. Antonina is married and has three children.
One day, Katerina is travelling back home from Antonina’s dacha and meets a man, Gosha. She sees his old shoes and does not pay attention to him at first, but the dialogue begins. Shortly after, they start dating. At the same moment, Rodion (Alexandra’s father) unexpectedly reappers in Katerina’s life as he has to interview her on her success. He does not recognize her in the beginning, but when he does, he asks to meet Alexandra. Rodion shows up at their apartment when Katerina, Alexandra and Gosha are having dinner together. Rodion tells Gosha about Katerina’s high-level position at the factory and Gosha’s pride is hurt. Gosha leaves her life.
Katerina becomes very sad and her friends decide to find out Gosha and tell him everything. Antonina’s husband Nikolai is determined to find Gosha for a “men talk”. They have a long converation over a bottle of vodka. At the end, Gosha, sober, brings Nikolai to Katerina’s apartment and have a face-to-face with her. During a dinner, Katerina can’t stop saying “I have been looking for you for so long”. Gosha replies that it’s been only a few days, to which Katerina replies, with tears in her eyes, “I have been looking for you for so long…”.
In conclusion, “Moscow does not believe in tears” got an Oscar for a reason!
The third place is for one of the most touching love stories “The Barber of Siberia”
The movie begins with the main character Jane Callahan an American lady, who reveals to her son a big secret. Then, the real love story begins. Jane arrives in Russia, twenty years earlier, to help the engineer Douglas McCracken who is trying to convince Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich to sponsor his invetion – a machine to harvest the forests.
Jane meets two men who will play an important role in her life – a beautiful young cadet Andrey Tolstoy and General Radlov who falls in love with her. Consequently, Tolstoy and Radlov become enemies and will fight for Jane’s love. After spending a nigt with Tolstoy, Jane promises to marry him. However, later on, she denies her promises in front of the General in order to make him arrange a meeting for her and Douglas McCracken with the Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich. Furious, Tolstoy challenges the General to a duel, but the man in power sends Tolstoy to an exil in Siberia.
The movie ends showing Jane riding a horse in the endless Siberian taiga after seeing the place where Tolsty lives with his family. She finally reveals the heavy secret of her heart to her son.
“The Barber of Siberia” is one of the best love story shown on the big screen and reveals the best the deep Russian soul.
Finally, a comedy that reveals Russian soul “Kidnapping, Caucasian Style”
The last movie, that is also considered being a Russian classic, reveals more the customs and the soul of the people from the Caucasus. I am not sure if non-Russians will understand the humour behind the funny scenes and characters in the movie, but it’s, with no doubts, a movie that unfold the Russian soul.
The main character Shurik goes to the Caucasus to learn more about the local “myths, legends, and toasts” of the region. The movie begins with Shurik travelling the Caucasus on a donkey. He meets the truck driver Edik whose truck des not work. Both men get pissed off as their means of transport betray them.
Furthermore, we see Nina walking down the road. The donkey starts following her and the truck works again. Nina is a smart young lady who practice sport and is a member of the Komsomol. Her uncle, Comrade Dzhabrail works as a personal driver for comrade Saakhov who is the richest man in town. Saakhov likes Nina and invites her to an important public ceremony. On his side, Shurik joins the ceremony too. He shows up completely drunk as the locals teached him the toasts.
Meanwhile, Saakhov decides to marry Nina and makes a deal with her uncle Dzhabrail. As Nina would never agree, they decide to kidnap her. They hire a gang of three guys – the Coward, the Fool, and the Pro to kidnap Nina. However, the task becomes difficult as Nina spends a lot of time with Shurik. Dzhabrail invites Shurik to a dinner and tells him that Nina is going to marry Saakhov, but as they have to follow the local customs, they have to kidnap her. Shurik is unhappy to hear that as he is in love with Nina.
Nina and Shurik spend a night in a camping. Shurik zips her up in her sleeping bag and calls the Coward, the Fool, and the Pro to kidnap her. Shurik discovers that the story about kidnapping Nina is true. He goes to the militsiya to denounce Saakhov, but Saakhov is already awaiting for him there. He brings Shurik to a party and after getting him drunk Saakhov calls the psyschiatric services to come and pick up Shurik.
At the hospital, Shurik comes to the cnclusion that the kidnapping is Saakhov’s idea. He escapes the hospital and meets by accident Edik, the truck driver. They drive to Saakhov’s villa. Once they arrive they convince the trio in charge of Nina that they have to do vaccinations. That’s how they inject the three men with sedatives. Shurik has to find Nina. But as she thinks that Shurik participates in the kidnapping too, she hits him and escapes in one of the trucks.
The kidnappers manage to catch Nina, but at that very moment the sedative begins to take effect and they all fall asleep. Shurik finds Nina and kisses her.
The movie ends in Saakhov’s apartment at night. Nina, Shurik, and Edik appear to him with weapons and dressed in masks, calling themselves the “law of the mountains”. Scared, Saakhov jumps out of the window. Edik shoots him with his rifle, which turns out to be loaded with salt. Saakhov ends up in the court. Shurik walks Nina to a bus and follows her on his donkey.
“Kidnapping, Caucasian Style” shows the humourous side of people from the Caucas and reveals another part of the Russian soul.
That was my selection of four movies that describe the best “Russian soul”.
Do you like Russian movies? Which one is your favourite?
Thanks for reading!