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Oksana: Привет всем.
Eddie: Eddie here. All about. Lesson 9. Five Russian Movies You Must Watch.
Oksana: Hello everyone! I'm Oksana, and welcome to RussianPOD101.
Eddie: With us you'll learn to speak Russian with fun and effective lessons.
Oksana: We also provide you with cultural insights...
Eddie: ...and tips you won't find in a textbook.
Oksana: Today we’re going to discuss five Russian movies that you simply must watch.
Eddie: We’re talking about real Russian movies here, not a Russian dubbed Die Hard with Bruce Willis!
Oksana: It’s important to see real Russian movies that we’re going to discuss today.
Eddie: Watching movies, apart from being fun, can be used to help learn a language. It can consolidate a lot of “text book” and “academic” learning.
Oksana: In addition, it gives you an insight into the culture, history and the “real” Russian.
Eddie: Not to mention using things like subtitles and the rewind button!
Oksana: Above all, movies can be fun and relaxing and you can watch them again and again.
Eddie: We are going to talk about the movies in chronological order, not the date when they were made but of the period they cover.
Oksana: The first film we’re going to look at is called “Cruel Romance” - “Жестокий Романс” in Russian.
Eddie: This movie was adapted from a theatre play written by a famous Russian playwright, Alexander Ostrovsky and is a work of one of the best Soviet film directors, Eldar Ryazanov.
Oksana: It takes us back to the 19th Century, to a provincial town at the banks of the Volga river.
Eddie: The main character called Larisa has everything.
Oksana: The only thing she doesn’t have is a dowry, which wasn’t uncommon for noble young girls at that time.
Eddie: That was a time when the merchant class were building fortunes while many nobles were ruined.
Oksana: Larisa was surrounded by admiring men but no-one wanted to marry her because of her situation. And being unmarried at that time was unthinkable!
Eddie: There was somebody that was interested in her, his name was Karandyshev and he proposed to her and rather than staying unmarried she accepted even though she actually despised him!
Oksana: He was an ambitious post office clerk.
Eddie: Can you be ambitious and a post office clerk at the same time?
Oksana: Well, he actually resented being a post office clerk, that’s why marrying Larisa was so important to him. He thought it would open the doors to a different world.
Eddie: I see. Now, there was a man that had always been in love with Larisa, his name was Paratov. He lived in the same town but had been away for a long time. When he eventually returned he explained how he was totally devoted to her and this changed everything for her.
Oksana: As it would! She believed Paratov’s promises that he loved her and would give up everything for her.
Eddie: This isn’t going to end well is it!
Oksana: Larisa left her fiancé at a party where their engagement was supposed to be celebrated and joined Paratov’s party on his boat.
Eddie: This gives a whole new meaning to a night out!
Oksana: They spent the night together and the following morning he confessed that he’s engaged to a wealthy heiress and cannot marry Larisa!
Eddie: Scoundrel! As if things weren’t bad enough, Paratov’s friends, rich merchants who had been invited to the party on the boat, saw Larisa’s situation and tried to take advantage of it.
Oksana: One of them asks her to be his mistress and offers to “keep” her.
Eddie: Another scoundrel!
Oksana: Larisa realizes that no-one cares about her as a person and that she’s considered an object rather than person.
Eddie: Meanwhile, her fiancé, Karandyshev arrives at the boat and threatens to kill her! She provokes him and hurts his pride even more by saying that “if she’s just an object, she’s too expensive for him”.
Oksana: Karandyshev then shoots Larisa!
Eddie: My goodness!
Oksana: As she lay dying she thanks him for releasing her from her awful situation.
Eddie: How sad. This movie really gives a good portrait of the merchant class in Russia when it was at its peak and denounces their cynicism, lack of morals and greed.
Oksana: It’s also a must see for its beautiful, Russian tsygan-style songs.
Eddie: Yes, it’s a very “Russian” movie that you absolutely have to watch.
Oksana: And that’s the point, language aside, which is important in itself, you get that all important feeling of Russia in that significant moment in history. What’s the next movie, Eddie?
Eddie: OK, so the next is called, Twelve Chairs.
Oksana: “Двенадцать Стульев” in Russian.
Eddie: This is a brilliant comedy, adapted from a novel with the same name. It takes us back to the turbulent time just after the Russian Revolution.
Oksana: There are actually several screen versions of the novel, but the best one was probably the one by Leonid Gayday, a Soviet film director specialising in comedies.
Eddie: This one is about a former nobleman who is now a modest clerk in a Soviet organization. His name was Ippolit Vorobyaninov.
Oksana: He finds out that his mother-in-law had hidden all their family treasures in a chair to conceal them from the Bolsheviks.
Eddie: Well that’s original! A chair! Who would ever think of looking in a chair! Genius!
Oksana: The problem is that the chair was part of a set of twelve other identical chairs.
Eddie: Uh oh!
Oksana: And if that wasn’t bad enough, he has no idea what happened to the entire set of furniture!
Eddie: Now THAT is a problem!
Oksana: At the very beginning of the movie, treasure hunting Vorobyaninov meets an adventurous young man, Ostap Bender, who takes total control of the operation.
Eddie: Just what you need. Someone to take control.
Oksana: Well, as the search for chairs proves more and more difficult, Bender and Vorobyaninov meet a number of strange characters and get into hilarious situations.
Eddie: Every new chair is an adventure; Bender even has to get married to get hold of one of them, but of course the treasure was in the last one.
Oksana: Of course it is!
Eddie: Maybe there’s no treasure at all? You’ll need to watch the movie to find out!
Oksana: Many phrases and sayings from this movie, most of which belong to unforgettable Ostap Bender, achieved cult status.
Eddie: Sounds a bit like Wayne’s World!
Oksana: Very different movies though! To say the least.
Eddie: OK, so the third movie that must be on your list is called “Tomorrow Was The War”.
Oksana: “Завтра Была Война” in Russian. This is a drama.
Eddie: Yes, and is adapted from a book by Boris Vasilyev.
Oksana: It takes us to the tragic time just before the Second World War crossed over into Soviet borders. A group of teenagers from a provincial Russian town have normal teenage worries.
Eddie: Those were the days.
Oksana: Care to elaborate, Eddie?
Eddie: Erm, not really no.
Oksana: This group of friends are faced with a tragedy that will totally change their vision of the world. It’s the time of repressions when anyone could be arrested, exiled or executed for no reason at all, and that’s what happens to the father of one of the girls.
Eddie: Immediately a school teacher starts persecuting the girl, insisting that she publicly condemns her father. Eventually she is driven to commit suicide.
Oksana: At her funeral the school headmaster delivers a speech that will cost him his job and his membership in the communist party.
Eddie: Very true. Probably always has been true I imagine. I suppose it’s a dark and sad movie?
Oksana: Well, as well as reflecting a particularly dark page of Russian history, the movie carries a very positive message showing that courage, honesty and friendship can help people survive even at the most difficult of times.
Eddie: And that’s true as well. Sometimes it’s all you have left.
Oksana: Yes and this particularly delivers well on all accounts. What’s next?
Eddie: Next we have, The Irony Of Fate Or Enjoy Your Bath! From 1975.
Oksana: In Russian it’s “Ирония судьбы, или с лёгким паром!”
Eddie: This comedy is traditionally broadcast in Russia on New Year’s Eve and is fondly watched by Russians every year. The key to the plot is the uniformity of the Brezhnev era; public architecture, unimaginative multistory apartment buildings that can, in fact, be found in every city and town across the former Soviet Union today.
Oksana: Following their annual tradition, a group of friends meet at a banya.
Eddie: A banya?
Oksana: It’s a traditional public bath.
Eddie: Oh yes I know.
Oksana: This banya is in Moscow to and they meet to celebrate New Year's Eve and all of them get very drunk.
Eddie: No surprises there! After the bath, one of the friends, Pavlik, has to catch a plane to Leningrad whilst another of the group, Zhenya, is supposed to go home to celebrate New Year's Eve with his fiancée.
Oksana: Both Zhenya and Pavlik pass out, and the others cannot remember which of their unconscious friends is supposed to catch the plane to Leningrad!
Eddie: And you just know they’ll put the wrong guy on the flight!
Oksana: Yes, they mistakenly decide that it is Zhenya and put him on the flight instead of Pavlik!
Eddie: So poor old Zhenya wakes up in Leningrad airport, believing he is still in Moscow. It turns out that in Leningrad there is a street with the same name as his own address.
Oksana: Not only that, the building at his address looks exactly like Zhenya's! The key fits in the door of the apartment with the same number.
Eddie: Talk about coincidences!
Oksana: Yes, though don’t forget he was drunk too. Once inside, even the furniture and layout of the apartment seemed nearly identical to that of Zhenya's apartment. He’s too drunk to notice the differences anyway, and goes to sleep.
Eddie: This just spells trouble! Later, the real tenant, Nadya, arrives home to find the strange man sleeping in her bed.
Oksana: And to make matters worse, Nadya's fiancé Ippolit arrives before Nadya can convince Zhenya to get up and leave. Ippolit is furious.
Eddie: Can you blame him? “Hi honey, I have no idea who this man is that is sleeping on my bed, with a key to the apartment!”
Oksana: Ippolit refuses to believe Zhenya's and Nadya's explanations and so leaves.
Eddie: Zhenya desperately tries to get back to Moscow and Nadya herself wants to get rid of him as soon as possible, but there are no flights to Moscow until the next morning.
Oksana: Is it New’s Year’s Eve right?
Eddie: Right, and so the two are forced to spend New Year's Eve together.
Oksana: At first they continue to treat each other with animosity, but gradually they fall in love.
Eddie: That was quick!
Oksana: Love at first sight Eddie!
Eddie: Yeah but with a man who you find drunk in your apartment?
Oksana: That’s why it’s such a great comedy too.
Eddie: Actually it’s really filled with comedy moments, lots of interruptions such as unexpected guests, ringing of the phone, whilst at the same time there is a love story continuing to develop.
Oksana: By the time morning comes they feel that everything that has happened to them was like an illusion, it was so extraordinary it just couldn’t have been real, and so they make the difficult decision to part.
Eddie: Oh that’s sad!
Oksana: It is. With a heavy heart, Zhenya returns to Moscow. Meanwhile Nadya reconsiders everything and deciding that she might have let her chance at happiness slip away, takes a plane to Moscow following Zhenya.
Eddie: That’s the spirit! She easily finds him in Moscow, since their addresses are the same.
Oksana: See how the plot works?
Eddie: Yes, it all fits together like all great stories. The movie is funny and sad at the same time, like many Soviet comedies, it will give you a good insight into what life was like in the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev Era and especially the way Russians celebrated, and still celebrate holidays.
Oksana: Yes, it’s very important. And it worth seeing it for its beautiful soundtrack.
Eddie: Which really makes a great movie, the icing on the cake.
Oksana: Lastly, the fifth movie we’re going to look at is called “Brother”, “Брат” in Russian, from 1997.
Eddie: “Brat” was considered by many critics as the first Post-soviet film to accurately portray Russian life after the fall of Communism where violence and crime were just part of everyday life.
Oksana: The film begins when Danila Bagrov travels to St. Petersburg to find his brother, Viktor. Their mother is confident that Viktor will find him a job.
Eddie: After all, that’s what older brothers are for right?
Oksana: His brother Viktor, who’s actually an accomplished hitman, offers him one of his jobs.
Eddie: OK, that is NOT what older brothers are supposed to do!
Oksana: Danila completes the job successfully.
Eddie: Wow, he didn’t take much convincing!
Oksana:Well, he’s followed by a gang who were supposed to eliminate his brother.
Eddie: To complicate matters further, he escapes with the help of Svetlana, a married woman who is being abused by her husband and begins an affair with her.
Oksana: At the same time he befriends several people and gets into more trouble with mafia.
Eddie: Eventually, a gang leader, Krugly, manages to get hold of Danila’s brother, Viktor, and gets him to call his brother and tell him to come home immediately.
Oksana: What Danila ends up doing is killing most of Krugly's men along with Krugly himself!
Eddie: Now THIS sounds a bit more like Bruce Willis in Die Hard!
Oksana: Not quite! Danila learns that he’s been turned in by his brother but forgives him and tells him to move back to their home town.
Eddie: In the meantime, in an attempt to rescue Sveta, Danila finds her husband, shoots and injures him! Yet Sveta refuses to leave with him and insists on staying with her husband.
Oksana: That’ll teach him!
Eddie: After saying good-bye to his friends, Danila leaves the city.
Oksana: Wow, that’s five really good movies to make a note of. History, culture and lots of Russian!
Eddie: Not only that, can you imagine how impressed your Russian friends will be that you know this stuff!
Oksana: That’s so true, throw in a few lines from Ostap Bender from “Двенадцать Стульев”, the Twelve Chairs and you’ll be all set!
Eddie: Who else teaches you things like this?
Oksana: RussianPod101.com is the only place to be!
Eddie: That just about does it for today. Before we go, we want to tell you about a way to improve your pronunciation drastically.
Oksana: The voice-recording tool!
Eddie: Yes, the voice-recording tool in the Premium Learning Center...
Oksana: Record your voice with a click of a button,
Eddie: ...and then play it back just as easily.
Oksana: So you record your voice and then listen to it.
Eddie: Compare it to the native speakers...
Oksana:...and adjust your pronunciation!
Eddie: This will help you improve your pronunciation fast! Till next time, bye for now.
Oksana: Всем пока!