Watch 70+ Soviet Films Free Online, Courtesy of Mosfilm, the Hollywood of the Soviet Union

Recent­ly we’ve fea­tured films by Sergei Eisen­stein, a pio­neer of cin­e­ma as we know it, and Andrei Tarkovsky, one of the most respect­ed auteurs in the his­to­ry of the art form. They’re all free to watch on Youtube, as is Sergei Bon­darchuk’s epic adap­ta­tion of War and Peace from the late nine­teen-six­ties and Karen Shakhnazarov’s eight-part Anna Karen­i­na, which came out just a few years ago. For all this we have Mos­film to thank. Once the nation­al film stu­dio of the Sovi­et Union — equipped with the kind of resources that made it more or less the Hol­ly­wood of the U.S.S.R. — Mos­film remains in oper­a­tion as a pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny, as well as a Youtube chan­nel.

Mos­film’s playlist of Sovi­et movies now offers more than 70 Eng­lish-sub­ti­tled fea­tures, each one labeled by genre. The dozen come­dies cur­rent­ly free to watch include Leonid Gaidai’s mas­sive­ly suc­cess­ful crime-and-soci­ety com­e­dy The Dia­mond Arm (1969) and Eldar Ryazanov’s satir­i­cal Car­ni­val Night (1956).

The ver­sa­tile Ryazanov also direct­ed pic­tures of oth­er types for Mos­film, includ­ing the musi­cal Hus­sar Bal­lad (1962) and the melo­dra­ma Rail­way Sta­tion for Two (1982). A vari­ety of gen­res and sub­gen­res: Abram Room’s “love movie” Bed and Sofa (1927), Karen Shakhnazarov’s “mys­tic dra­ma” Assas­si­na­tion of the Tsar (1991), Vladimir Motyl’s “East­ern” (as opposed to West­ern) White Sun of the Desert (1970), and Georgiy Daneliya’s “distopia movie” Kin-dza-dza! (1986).

Of course, one need not search far and wide to see the Sovi­et Union itself described as a dystopia. Few today could deny the fatal flaws of Sovi­et polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic sys­tems, but then, those flaws were hard­ly unknown to Sovi­et cit­i­zens them­selves, even those in posi­tions of cul­tur­al promi­nence. View­ers today may be sur­prised at just how keen­ly some of these movies (Georgiy Daneliya’s “trag­ic com­e­dy” Autumn Marathon from 1979 being one clas­sic exam­ple) observe the nature of life behind the Iron Cur­tain. In this and oth­er ways, Sovi­et film has a greater vari­ety of sen­si­bil­i­ties and tex­tures than one might expect. And giv­en that Mos­film pro­duced more than 3,000 pic­tures dur­ing the exis­tence of the U.S.S.R. — includ­ing Aki­ra Kuro­sawa’s Der­su Uza­la, from 1975 — there remain many more to dis­cov­er, at least if the upload­ing con­tin­ues apace. View the entire playlist of Sovi­et films with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles here.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Free: Watch Bat­tle­ship Potemkin and Oth­er Films by Sergei Eisen­stein, the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Sovi­et Film­mak­er

Watch the Huge­ly-Ambi­tious Sovi­et Film Adap­ta­tion of War and Peace Free Online (1966–67)

Watch Andrei Tarkovsky’s Films Free Online: Stalk­er, The Mir­ror & Andrei Rublev

Watch an 8‑Part Film Adap­ta­tion of Tolstoy’s Anna Karen­i­na Free Online

The Top 20 Russ­ian Films, Accord­ing to Rus­sians

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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Comments (7)
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  • Chris Charles says:

    Let’s maybe avoid Russ­ian web­sites for the time being. Until they’ve end­ed their unjust aggres­sion against Ukraine. jes sayin

  • Michel MICHEL says:

    Enfin ! autre chose que le soft pow­er améri­cain…

  • geoffrey ward says:

    I don’t recall peo­ple being asked to avoid West­ern film sites when we ille­gal­ly invad­ed Iraq

  • John Brooks says:

    The prob­lem resides with the Regime in pow­er, not Russ­ian cul­ture and Art.

  • Richard says:

    The best way to explore this genre is through Russ­ian Film Hub, fyi. These movies and much, much more

  • D. John says:

    Exact­ly right. The world is not black and white, nor are the peo­ple or art. And even though it can appear that most rus­sians sup­port their gov­t’s aggres­sion, it all comes from socioe­co­nom­ic pres­sure and illit­er­a­cy. Incred­i­bly many (of the old­er and elder­ly) don’t have inter­net access, so they rely on their sovi­et era school teach­ings of the world (which, as many know, was dis­tort­ed), and to this day they only have state-run TV and radio to rely on for “knowl­edge”.

    I don’t have much insight into state of media dur­ing Russ­ian Empire’s exis­tence, but I know for a fact that between USS­R’s col­lapse and the cur­rent state of the coun­try there has been about a cou­ple of decades of “free” (non-pro­hib­it­ed by law) press in the coun­try. Oh, and dur­ing those 20-ish years there’s been about 10 jour­nal­ists mur­dered per year. I guess today it’s sim­pler to out­law free press.

  • ulrix says:

    Unjust?The Euro­pean author­i­ties have gone out of their way to keep their cit­i­zens in the dark about what brought it about.… and who caused this mess

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