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Russia


The Rape of Europa

The Rape of Europa Lowest new price: $8.91
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List price: $13.85
Model: 4193674

The Rape of Europa tells the epic story of the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe's art treasures during the Third Reich and World War II. Joan Allen narrates this breathtaking chronicle about the battle over the very survival of centuries of Western culture.

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The Miracle Maker - The Story of Jesus

The Miracle Maker - The Story of Jesus Lowest new price: $19.45
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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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War and Peace

War and Peace Lowest new price: $21.15
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List price: $27.02
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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Eclipse Series 11: Larisa Shepitko (Wings / The Ascent) (The Criterion Collection)

Eclipse Series 11: Larisa Shepitko (Wings / The Ascent) (The Criterion Collection) Lowest new price: $19.92
Lowest used price: $18.86
List price: $22.99
Brand: Image Entertainment
Model: 4043661

The career of Larisa Shepitko, an icon of sixties and seventies Soviet cinema, was tragically cut short when she was killed in a car crash at age thirty-nine, just as she was emerging on the international scene. The body of work she left behind, though small, is masterful, and her genius for visually evoking characters interior worlds is never more striking than in her two greatest works: Wings, an intimate yet exhilarating portrait of a female fighter pilot turned provincial headmistress, and The Ascent, a gripping, tragic World War II parable of betrayal and martyrdom. A true artist, who had deftly used the Soviet film industry to make statements both personal and universal, Shepitko remains one of the greatest unsung filmmakers of all time.

Wings and The Ascent, the two films included in this Eclipse series set, are equally bleak and gorgeous. Though they differ greatly, both films focus on heroic characters whose imaginations run free though they are confined by tragic, war-related conditions. Made 10 years apart by Soviet director Larisa Sheptiko, a film-school contemporary of Andrei Tarkovsky’s, Wings and The Ascent are social dramas investigating the inner minds of protagonists yearning to be elsewhere. Wings (1966), Sheptiko’s first feature, stars Nadezhda Petrukhina (Maya Bulgakova), a retired Stalinist fighter pilot who works as a school headmistress, punishing students in lieu of dealing directly with hard feelings she has for her daughter, Tanya (Zhanna Bolotova), for marrying a man she disapproves of. Though courted by museum curator, Pavel Gavrilovich (Pantelejmon Krymov), "Nadya" wistfully dreams of lost love lost, both for another man and her airplane. Filmed in black-and-white, banal scenes of Nadya shuffling through school halls are interrupted by shots of her plane, gliding through clouds in open air.

The Ascent (1977), on the other hand, is claustrophobically terrestrial. Based on a novella by Vasili Bykov, it depicts two Soviet partisans, Sotnikov (Boris Plotnikov) and Rybak (Vladimir Gostyukhin), searching for food to feed their starving troop in German-occupied Belarus. This war film depicts horror through landscape, featuring long shots of frozen tundra and snowy forests. Well-known as a Christian allegory, The Ascent likens Sotnikov to Christ as he morally transcends corruption and cruelty inflicted upon himself and his partner by Russian Nazi-collaborator, Portnov (Anatoli Solonitsyn). Like Tarkovsky’s masterpiece, Andrei Rublev, The Ascent charts a character’s path through a dark, dismal historical period. Set partially afield and partially in prison camp, it makes for brutal viewing that is nevertheless stunningly rewarding. It is wonderful to have a female auteur to add to the Russian cinematic canon, as Sheptiko brings to these hardened characters a sensitivity that could be construed as feminine. --Trinie Dalton

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The Return

The Return Lowest new price: $18.73
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List price: $19.99
Brand: Kino Video
Model: 2254819

Declared "luminously beautiful" by the New York Times, Andrey Zvyagintsev's The Return is a stunning mixture of visionary allegory, urgent suspense and road movie momentum. Zvyagintsev's equal skill with lush visuals, lucid storytelling and breathtaking realism easily netted The Return the prestigious Golden Lion and the Best First Feature Film Award at the Venice International Film Festival. Within the emotional vacuum of a fatherless childhood, young brothers Andrei (Vladimir Garin) and Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov) have grown closer than most siblings. But when they least expect it, the father the boys have never known returns. Under the cool midnight sun of a coastal Russian summer, Andrei and Ivan eagerly hop into a car for a week long fishing trip with a complete stranger they desperately need to believe is their father. but as they travel deeper into the Russian wilderness, their journey devolves from vacation to boot camp to father-sons love triangle and ultimately to a test of wills that pushes to the brink of violence. As it dawns on the boys that the man who could be their father might be trying to abandon, exploit or kill them, The Return's Jungian landscape gives way to fervid Freudian rage, shocking loss and bittersweet redemption. Harried as one of the most auspicious film debuts since Badlands or The 400 Blows, The Return is both a gorgeous contemporary thriller and an astute updating of vanguard Soviet filmmaking. Disturbing, tender, transcendent, The Return's skillful marriage of psychological complexity to mythic imagery effortlessly evokes the watershed films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Roman Polanski.

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Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan

Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan Lowest new price: $8.25
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Brand: Warner Manufacturing
Model: 4314376

MONGOL (WS)

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.

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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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The Island

The Island Lowest new price: $9.56
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Brand: Repnet LLC

Somewhere in Northern Russia in a small Russian Orthodox monastery lives a very unusual man. His fellow monks are confused by his bizarre conduct. Those who visit the island believe that the man has the power to heal, exorcise demons and foretell the future. However, he considers himself unworthy because of a sin he committed in his youth. The film is a parable, combining the realities of Russian everyday life with monastic ritual and routine.

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The Mirror

The Mirror Lowest new price: $116.17
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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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Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky Lowest new price: $20.13
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List price: $20.96
Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254811

The majestic music and fascinating life of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky are evocatively presented in this Academy Award-nominated film by writer/director Igor Talankin and celebrated composer Dimitri Tiomkin. Tchaikovsky demonstrates the inseparability of the composer's music from his life, as each moment of happiness and tragedy is expressed through the magnificent ballets, operas, symphonies and love songs that flow from his pen. These masterpieces become an integral part of the film, given cinematic expression through Talankin's sure-handed direction and the lavish resources afforded him by Mosfilm Studios. The resulting film evokes such spectacles as Amadeus and Doctor Zhivago, a lavish cinematic symphony of choreographed sound and image, filmed at great expense in Russia, France and England. For composer Tiomkin (1894-1979), Tchaikovsky was a project of great personal significance. Acting as producer and executive producer, while also arranging and conducting the score, it took four years for him to bring the Russian-American co-production to fruition. It would be the final motion picture project from the man who penned the scores for such classic films as Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, Hawks' Red River, and Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.

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Solaris (The Criterion Collection)

Solaris (The Criterion Collection) Lowest new price: $18.59
Lowest used price: $11.93
Brand: Image Entertainment

SOLARIS - DVD Movie

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