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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Must See Films, Must Read Fiction

by Paul E. Richardson

In our 100th issue, we have a long feature, "100 Things Everyone Should Know About Russia," with loads of factoids, notes, lists and essays. We figured our list of the "must read" fiction and "must see" movies would be a bit contentious (and certainly foreshortened). So we are posting the lists here for reader comment and supplementation...

10 Must Read Novels

Everyone knows Lev Tolstoy's War and Peace and Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. But here are ten lesser-known works of Russian fiction that are essential (not listed in any order of precedence).

  • A Hero for Our Time, Mikhail Lermontov
  • Yevgeny Onegin, Alexander Pushkin
  • The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
  • The Zone, Sergei Dovlatov
  • Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol
  • House on the Embankment, Yuri Trifonov
  • The Twelve Chairs, Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn[1]
  • Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov[2]
  • Moscow to the End of the Line, Venedikt Erofeyev

10 Essential Short Stories

  • Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Bulgakov[1]
  • Hadji Murat, Lev Tolstoy[1]
  • The Overcoat, Nikolai Gogol
  • Envy, Yuri Olesha[1]
  • Gooseberries, Anton Chekhov
  • The Elagin Affair, Ivan Bunin
  • The Nose, Nikolai Gogol
  • Life with an Idiot, Viktor Erofeyev
  • Sonechka, Lyudmila Ulitskaya
  • The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea, Nikolai Leskov

[1] Technically, these are novellas, or povesti, but we classified them as we thought of them.
[2] Yes, this was written in English, but we felt it essential to have a Nabokov contribution on the list.

20 Must See Films

There are hundreds of excellent Russian films that are invaluable for understanding Russia, for picking up on important cultural knowledge. Every film lover will have their own list. These are 20 that we feel every Russophile should see. The choice is limited to films that are available with English language subtitles.

  • Aelita, by Iakov Protazanov (1924)
  • Battleship Potemkin, by Sergei Eisenstein (1925)
  • The Circus, by Grigory Alexandrov (1936)
  • The Fall of Berlin, by Mikhail Chiaureli (1949)
  • The Cranes are Flying, by Mikhail Kalatozov (1957)
  • Andrei Rublyov, by Andrei Tarkovsky (1966)
  • Diamond Arm, by Leonid Gaidai (1968)
  • White Sun of the Desert, by Vladimir Motyl (1970)
  • Belorussky Train Station, by Andrei Smirnov (1970)
  • Gentlemen of Fortune, by Alexander Sery (1972)
  • 17 Moments of Spring, by Tatyana Lyuznova (1973)
  • Irony of Fate, by Eldar Ryazanov (1975)
  • Slave of Love, by Nikita Mikhalkov (1976)
  • Mimino, by Georgi Daneliya (1977)
  • The Assent, by Larissa Shepitko (1977)
  • An Ordinary Miracle, by Mark Zakharov (1978)
  • >Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, by Vladimir Menshov (1980)
  • Repentance, by Tengiz Abuladze (1984)
  • Brother, film by Alexei Balabanov (1997)
  • Gloss, Andrei Konchalovsky (2007)