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Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Lowest new price: $5.99
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Brand: Kulter

Live from the Bolshoi Theatre. This 1978 remake is a truly spellbinding version of this Christmas classic. Tchaikovsky's beloved melodies combine with superb dancing to create pure delight. Starring Yekaterina Maximova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Victor Levashev.

Famed Bolshoi duo Yekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev star in this production of Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet, The Nutcracker. Maximova dances the role of Maria, the young girl whose mysterious uncle Drosselmeyer (Victor Levashov) gives her a wooden nutcracker (Vasiliev) for Christmas. When he comes to life, she rescues him from marauding mice and is taken to the Kingdom of Sweets for a series of entertaining divertissements from many nationalities.

This production dates from 1987 and the sets and costumes appear to have been in use since well before then. Audio and video quality are rather crude, especially compared to the stunning DVD productions by Patrice Bart and Maurice Bejart. Bart, however, takes liberties with the story line, and Bejart throws it out altogether. Sometimes, all you need is a traditional version of a family holiday favorite, and if you want traditional, it's hard to beat the Bolshoi. --David Horiuchi


  • ISBN: 0-7697-0062-4
  • Color
  • Running Time: 100 minutes
  • Composer/Author: Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Performers: Yekaterina Maximova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Victor Levashev, Sergei Radchenko

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The Miracle Maker - The Story of Jesus

The Miracle Maker - The Story of Jesus Lowest new price: $8.48
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Brand: Lions Gate

Voices of Ralph Fiennes, William Hurt, Miranda Richardson. A family searching for help for their sickly daughter cross paths with the one man who can help them: a carpenter named Jesus. This inspiring tale of Jesus Christ features 3-D computer animation the whole family will love! 2000/color/87 min/NR.

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The Cranes are Flying (The Criterion Collection)

The Cranes are Flying (The Criterion Collection) Lowest new price: $18.49
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Model: 2567585

Veronica and Boris are blissfully in love, until the eruption of World War II tears them apart. Boris is sent to the front lines...and then communication stops. Meanwhile, Veronica tries to ward off spiritual numbness while Boris' draft-dodging cousin makes increasingly forceful overtures. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, The Cranes are Flying is a superbly crafted drama, bolstered by stunning cinematography and impassioned performances.

Mikhail Kalatozov's luscious portrait of love and loss during World War II stars almond-eyed beauty Tatyana Samojlova and handsome Aleksei Batalov as moony-eyed young lovers whose innocent romance is shattered by war. When the idealistic boy volunteers for service, his draft-dodging cousin steals the despondent girl by brute force, yet she never gives up on her true love, even when he's reported dead. Kalatozov's patriotic paean to fallen soldiers and home-front heroes is an undeniably sentimental melodrama suffused with lush images and lyrical sequences, a kind of cinematic poetry unseen in Soviet cinema since the experimentation and optimism of the silent days. Produced during the "thaw" following Stalin's repressive reign, it won the Palme d'Or prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival and set Kalatozov on the road to more ambitious expressions of Soviet idealism in the modern world, culminating in his masterpiece, I Am Cuba. --Sean Axmaker


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Man With a Movie Camera

Man With a Movie Camera Lowest new price: $16.49
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Brand: Kino Video
Model: 2254770

Dziga Vertov's Man With A Movie Camera is considered one of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era. Startlingly modern, this film utilizes a groundbreaking style of rapid editing and incorporates innumerable other cinematic effects to create a work of amazing power and energy. After his work on The Commissar Vanishes, a multi-media art event of 1999, composer Michael Nyman (The Piano) continued researching the period of extraordinary creativity that followed the Russian Revolution. This artistic inquiry resulted in the celebrated score for Man With a Movie Camera, performed by The Michael Nyman Band on May 17, 2002 at London's Royal Festival Hall. This dawn-to-dusk view of the Soviet Union offers a montage of urban Russian life, showing the people of the city at work and at play, and the machines that endlessly whirl to keep the metropolis alive. It was Vertov's first full-length film, and it employs all the cinematic techniques at the director's disposal - dissolves, split-screens, slow motion and freeze frames - to produce a work that is exhilarating and intellectually brilliant.


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War and Peace

War and Peace Lowest new price: $24.90
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Tolstoy's epic masterpiece paints a portrait of Russia and her people, caught up in the irresistible tides of history during the Napoleonic Era.

Like Tolstoy's novel, this epic-length War and Peace is rough going, but worth the effort. Winner of the 1969 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film and widely considered the most faithful adaptation of Tolstoy's classic, Sergei Bondarchuk's massive Soviet-Italian coproduction was seven years in the making, at a record-setting cost of $100 million. Bondarchuk himself plays the central role of Pierre Bezukhov, buffeted by fate during Russia's tumultuous Napoleonic Wars, serving as pawn and philosopher through some of the most astonishing set pieces ever filmed. Bondarchuk is a problematic director: interior monologues provide awkward counterpoint to intimate dramas, weaving together the many classes and characters whose lives are permanently affected by war. Infusions of '60s-styled imagery clash with the film's period detail; it's an anomalous experiment that doesn't really work. Undeniably, however, the epic battle scenes remain breathtakingly unique; to experience the sheer scale of this film is to realize that such cinematic extravagance will never be seen again. --Jeff Shannon


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Burnt by the Sun

Burnt by the Sun Lowest new price: $16.25
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Winner of the Academy Award(r) for Best Foreign film and the Cannes Grand Jury Prize, BURNT BY THE SUN is the unforgettable story of a Soviet hero whose happy family is suddenly targeted by Stalin's secret police. Nikita Mikhalkov directs and stars as Colonel Serguei Kotov, a hero of the Revolution who is spending the summer in the country with his young daughter (Mikhalkov's real-life duaghter), his wife and her eccentric family. But when his wife's childhood love suddenly appears, the idyllic summer day takes a surprising turn. A lyrical film filled with beauty and warmth, BURNT BY THE SUN isalso an indelible account of a man dedicated to family and fatherland, cruelly destroyed by political paranoia.

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Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan

Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan Lowest new price: $5.77
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Brand: New Line Home Video
Model: 4314376


Award-winning Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov illuminates the life and legend of Genghis Khan in his stunning historical epic, MONGOL. Based on leading scholarly accounts, MONGOL delves into the dramatic and harrowing early years of the ruler who was born as Temudgin in 1162. As it follows Temudgin from his perilous childhood to the battle that sealed his destiny, the film paints a multidimensional portrait of the future conqueror, revealing him not as the evil brute of hoary stereotype, but as an inspiring, fearless and visionary leader. MONGOL shows us the making of an extraordinary man, and the foundation on which so much of his greatness rested: his relationship with his wife, Borte, his lifelong love and most trusted advisor.


First entry in a proposed trilogy, Mongol vividly captures the beauty and brutality of ancient Mongolia. Beginning in 1172 and ending in 1206, Sergei Bodrov's Oscar-nominated epic presents future conqueror Ghengis Khan as more lover--and fighter--than diplomat. Against his father Esegui's wishes, nine-year-old Temudjin chooses his own bride, whom he marries in the years to come. Hopes for the future, however, turns to thoughts of vengeance when the clan forsakes the boy upon Esegui's death. While Temudjin (now played by Zatoichi’s Tadanobu Asano, a quietly commanding presence) makes his way in a cruel world, turncoat Targutai (Amadu Mamadakov) becomes the new khan. When an opposing clan kidnaps Temudjin’s wife, Börte (Khulan Chuluun), he eventually retrieves her, but betrays blood brother Jamukha (Sun Honglei, Seven Swords) in the process, leading to further enslavement and more Kurasawa-style slicing and dicing. Throughout his travails, Temudjin comes to believe that Mongols must unite to share the same language, culture, and set of values. Sustained by his faith in the god Tengri and the devotion of Börte, Temudjin sets out to wrest control of Mongolia from Jamukha and his women and children-killing hordes. Except for an over-reliance on CGI during the climactic battle sequence, Mongol equals the scope and grandeur of historical predecessors, like Braveheart and Hero. If much of the cast is Chinese and Japanese, Bodrov, who directed Prisoner of the Mountains, conjures up authenticity through detailed costumes, Mongolian dialogue, and remote Central Asian locations. --Kathleen C. Fennessy


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Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet

Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet Lowest new price: $14.49
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Brand: Facets Video

Considered by many the finest screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s greatest work, Grigori Kozintsev’s HAMLET is a spare, haunting interpretation based on a translation by novelist Boris Pasternak. The malevolence afoot in the state of Denmark is magnificently captured by the foreboding black and white cinematography and the dark, dramatic score by composer Dmitri Shostakovich. In addition, acclaimed Russian actors Innokenti Smoktunovsky and Anastasia Vertinskaya offer stellar, award-winning performances. Kozintsev, a peer of Eisenstein’s who worked well into the 1960s, was a master of cinematic technique who finally achieved recognition at the end of his career for his stunning interpretations of Shakespeare. Leading film historian Richard Dyer wrote in the Boston Globe: "Paradoxically, the two most powerful films of Shakespeare plays [HAMLET and KING LEAR] were made not in Great Britain but in the Soviet Union."

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Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears

Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears Lowest new price: $16.87
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Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254810

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (edging out such formidable competitors as Kurosawa's Kagemusha, Truffaut's The Last Metro and Szabo's Confidence), Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears is Vladimir Menshov's enchanting drama of three women struggling to establish themselves in Russia's huge and often impersonal capital city. Liudmilla, Katerina and Antonina seem to have little in common, but are bound by a deep friendship and the shared dream that in Moscow they will somehow find happiness. Moscow follows their resourceful pursuit of professional and domestic bliss in 1958, then skips foward twenty years to see just how many of their dreams have come true. On one level Moscow works as a free-spirited melodrama in the classic Hollywood tradition, yet at the same time it offers something more. Beneath its charming exterior, the film is a truthful, moving portrait of the plight of women in Russia, depicted over the span of two decades.


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Swan Lake: The Bolshoi Theatre and the Company of the Bolshoi Ballet

Swan Lake: The Bolshoi Theatre and the Company of the Bolshoi Ballet Lowest new price: $20.56
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The Bolshoi Ballet Company in the Ultimate Swan Lake, Filmed Live at the Bolshoi Theatre, Starring Natalia Bessmertnova and Alexander Bogatyrev

Classic ballet at its best! Video

This performance offers a fine view of the liquid, lyric style of the Bolshoi Corps. Anna Kisselgoff

Bessmertnova dances ravishingly and the camera work is beyond reproach. Ballet News

This Swan Lake performs the most difficult promenades, leaps and pirouettes with commanding ease and poise. Dance Magazine

The aristocratic beauty of the Bolshoi makes The Ultimate Swan Lake alive with ennobling presence and artistry. Natalia Bessmertnova is soft and lyrical in the dual role of Odette and Odile; her eminently feminine quality makes her the ideal interpreter of this classic. The elegance and magnetism of Siegfried is masterfully created by Alexander Bogatyrev. The Ultimate Swan Lake is an exquisitely designed, opulently mounted production unlike any other. Choreographed by the critically acclaimed Yuri Grigorvich, with the Moscow Symphonic Orchestra under the baton of Algis Zhuraitis. Gene Kelly host-narrates this production, which is The Ultimate ballet treasure on video.

Natalia Bessmertnova: Odette/Odile
Alexander Bogatyrev: Prince Siegfried
Boris Akimov: Von Rothbart
Choreographed, Written and Staging & Choreography by Yuri Grigorovich
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Under the baton of Algis Zhuraitis

Swan Lake was Tchaikovsky's first ballet score and had its premiere on January 27, 1895.

Act I:
The Palace Gardens-
During Prince Siegfrieds s 21st birthday party, his mother announces that it's time for the Prince to marry. The Prince is aghast and depressed; his friends suggest a hunt of the swans.

The Prince meets Odette, Queen Of the Swans, who is under a spell of the evil Von Rothbart. It can only be lifted if a man swears to love her and be faithful. Only then can she appear always as a woman. The Prince swears to love Odette. Von Rothbart appears and the Prince takes aim, only to be saved by Odette who knows that Von Rothbart must live if the spell is to be broken. The Swan maidens dance their celebrated waltz and dawn breaks as the maidens return to their swan identities.

Act II:
The Palace Ballroom-
The Prince Mother presents six potential brides. Von Rothbart (in human guise) and his daughter Odile arrive (she having been made by her father to look like Odette). The real Odette appears at the castle window and watches as the Prince, now under Von Rothbart s spell, swears to marry Odile. Von Rothbart then reveals his and Odile's true identities and Siegfried dashes off to find Odette.

Act III:
Odette believes Siegfried has broken his vow and determines to kill herself. The Prince begs forgiveness which she grants, but says she must die. Von Rothbart attempts to drive the Prince away and keep Odette for himself. Odette flings herself into the lake and is followed by Siegfried. Von Rothbart dies, mortally wounded by his act of love. The swan maidens watch as Odette and Siegfried journey on to everlasting happiness.


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