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Russia


War and Peace

War and Peace Lowest new price: $25.21
Lowest used price: $11.17
List price: $39.99
Brand: BONDARCHUK,SERGEI

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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Que Viva Mexico

Que Viva Mexico Lowest new price: $18.88
Lowest used price: $17.98
List price: $19.31
Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254689

Hollywood's loss was Mexico's gain, as this glorious documentary will attest. Having failed to realize several projects in Hollywood, Russian film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein trekked to Mexico with producer Grigory Alexandrov and cameraman Eduard Tisse, and the famous writer Upton Sinclair as beneficiary. Their budget quickly ran out, and the film was never properly completed, but Alexandrov carefully assembled this version of Que Viva Mexico! in 1979, and the result is one of the most beautiful documentaries ever made. Although it was later criticized for presenting a fantasized view of Mexican culture, this remains a stunning example of Eisenstein's ability to meld people, politics, and ritual into a richly cinematic experience. Celebratory, socially alert, and at times even surreal, the film displays all of Eisenstein's revolutionary techniques while proving that his narrative style could have flourished in Hollywood. Instead, this marvelous film stands as a testament to what might have been.

Hollywood's loss was Mexico's gain, as this glorious documentary will attest. Having failed to realize several projects in Hollywood, Russian film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein trekked to Mexico with producer Grigory Alexandrov and cameraman Eduard Tisse, and the famous writer Upton Sinclair as beneficiary. Their budget quickly ran out, and the film was never properly completed, but Alexandrov carefully assembled this version of Que Viva Mexico! in 1979, and the result is one of the most beautiful documentaries ever made. Although it was later criticized for presenting a fantasized view of Mexican culture, this remains a stunning example of Eisenstein's ability to meld people, politics, and ritual into a richly cinematic experience. Celebratory, socially alert, and at times even surreal, the film displays all of Eisenstein's revolutionary techniques while proving that his narrative style could have flourished in Hollywood. Instead, this marvelous film stands as a testament to what might have been. --Jeff Shannon

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Burnt by the Sun

Burnt by the Sun Lowest new price: $17.00
Lowest used price: $9.25
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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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The Mirror

The Mirror Lowest new price: $57.86
Lowest used price: $40.00
List price: $29.98
Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254655

Andrei Tarkovsky, the acclaimed master of Soviet cinema, takes a moving and personal turn with this striking meditation on life in Russia during the bleak days of WWII. The Mirror is not just the display of a film director at the peak of his unique powers. As an homage to the innocence of childhood, it tells an enigmatic tale that is both gripping and horrifying. Tarkovsky uses his own coming-of-age experiences, himself "mirrored," to convey the mood and action that dominated a country ravaged by war. Through a fascinating two-tiered time frame, the director blends his own harsh childhood with an adult life that is troubled and broken. Powerful images - a mother faced with political terror, a divorcing couple's quarrel - are underscored by Tarkovsky's masterful manipulation of film stocks and recorded sound. The Mirror becomes a stream of consciousness: nostalgic visions of childhood mixed with slow-motion dream sequences and stark WWII newsreels. Tarkovsky's The Mirror is ultimately as much a window through a filmmaker's gaze as it is a reflection of his personal passions and ideals. Through this essential film, viewers may find the puzzles that provide the key to director's other works, including, The Sacrifice and Solaris.

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The Miracle Maker - The Story of Jesus

The Miracle Maker - The Story of Jesus Lowest new price: $8.16
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List price: $9.98
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: $13.98
Lowest used price: $15.68
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Brand: SAMOILOVA,TATIANA
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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Siberiade (Complete and Uncut Version)

Siberiade (Complete and Uncut Version) Lowest new price: $19.02
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Brand: Kino International

Spanning more than six decades of Russian history encompassing the Bolshevik Revolution, Siberiade is Andrei Konchalovsky's (Runaway Train) passionate and ambitious examination of the Soviet spirit, as represented in two families of opposing ideologies: the proletariat Ustyuzhanins and the wealthy Solomins. Through their multi-generational conflicts and alliances, Konchalovsky dramatizes the evolution of the Russian people, bound together by the common struggle for survival and faithfulness to the motherland. Yet Siberiade is more than an immense historical epic. It is a hauntingly beautiful spectacle reminiscent of the finest woks of visionary filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (whose Andrei Roublev was co-written by Konchalovsky). Though cinematographer Levan Paatashvili's lens, the Siberian wilderness becomes a mesmerizing universe unto itself, whose forests and swamps are populated by near-mythical characters. Tied to ancient tradition, these spirits seek to protect the countryside from the ravaging forces of time and technology. When a rural village is invaded by an oil-drilling crew that encroaches upon their hallowed burial grounds, generating conflict between ancestral reverence for the earth and government-ordained industrialization. Siberiade comes to an explosive and unforgettable climax.

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Oblomov

Oblomov Lowest new price: $69.90
Lowest used price: $15.07
List price: $29.98
Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254809

Nikita Mikhalkov (Burnt by the Sun) has a reputation as an actor's director, adroitly guiding his players through complex material and obtaining some of the finest performances in Soviet cinema. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Oblomov, his moving and authentic distillation of Ivan Goncharov's great 19th century tragi-comedy novel. Oleg Tabakov brings to the title role a delicate dignity as the gentle aristocrat who would rather sleep than compete in a modern world of expanding industrialization - a character lovable and ludicrous. And Elena Solovei invests with giddy charm her role of the delightful country belle, Olga, with whom Oblomov has a springtime of passion. Set in glittery St. Petersburg during the heyday of the czars, Oblomov is also full of enchanting scenes of lush interiors and ravishing landscapes. The delicate story about friendship, family and daydreams becomes a warmly nostalgic portrait of Russia before the turn of the century. Kino presents Mikhalkov's Oblomov on DVD in this digitally remastered version.

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12

12 Lowest new price: $3.20
Lowest used price: $2.00
List price: $14.99
Brand: MAKOVETSKY,SERGEI
Model: 043396280281

When a Chechen youth is put on trial for the murder of his stepfather, it's up to a room full of jurors divided by racism and prejudice to determine the boy's ultimate fate. One by one, each man takes center stage to confront, connect and confess while the accused awaits a verdict. Slowly the tide of opinion turns, as the jurors begin to realize their decision will forever change the course of another person's life. As they deliberate, the accused revisits his heartbreaking journey through war in a series of powerful flashbacks. Director Nikita Mikhalkov's Oscar®-nominated remake of 12 Angry Men is a brilliant look at fear, trust and the triumph of human nature.

This Russian film is provocative on a number of levels, but it proves one thing for certain: Reginald Rose sure had a great idea when he came up with 12 Angry Men. The set-up is rock-solid: Twelve jurors are sequestered into a room to hash out a decision on the murder trial they've just sat through; at the outset, eleven are for conviction, one for acquittal. Then things start heating up. Rose originally wrote the script as a TV production in the Fifties, which then became Sidney Lumet's classic 1957 film. Here, Oscar-winner Nikita Mikhalkov (Burnt by the Sun) explodes the premise into a large, loquacious Russian version. To give you an idea of the differences, consider that Lumet's film was 96 minutes long but the Russian goes on for over two and a half hours, and now the original's cramped room is replaced by a large, airy high-school gym. The new one also travels outside the room for occasional flashbacks. In other words, 12 is very Russian, with loaded political material (the accused man is Chechen) and complex arguments about the various viewpoints and class levels in Russian society. The most furious of the 12 men is a raging anti-Semite (powerful Sergei Garmash), while the initial voice of reason (a.k.a. the Henry Fonda character) is played by Sergei Makovetsky. Mikhalkov himself plays the foreman of the jury. This is an elbow-throwing, scenery-chewing kind of movie, with nothing writ small. You sense that Mikhalkov wants to put it right in the face of his fellow Russians, and so he does, relentlessly. --Robert Horton

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To Russia With Love

To Russia With Love Lowest new price: $12.98
Lowest used price: $10.96
List price: $19.99
Brand: MOSCOW CHAMBER ORCHE

Every summer Dmitri Hovrostovsky interrupts his international opera and concert schedule to return to Russia and embrace his own people with concerts of their favorite Russian romances and songs. Dmitri is uniquely able to raise to the highest artistic level these popular classics all Russians know and love.

This DVD memorializes such a live event. All the songs on this DVD can also be heard on Dmitri's Delos CD recordings.

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