7 true-to-life Soviet FAMILY movies

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Conflict, comedy, drama, endearing characters, fatherless children and ideal love – some Soviet films portrayed relationships between men, women, parents and other family members better than a thousand words! Let’s see how close these cinematic masterpieces really were to reality.

In Soviet times, family films, like other forms of visual art, were meant to reflect aspirations for an ideal society. But here’s the paradox: while most Soviet films were generally in touch with reality, people, in fact, went to the movies to escape harsh reality.

A huge demographic imbalance that developed in the aftermath of World War II and the repressions of the Stalinist era resulted in the destruction of the predominantly male gene pool and distorted gender relations in the USSR. The problem was that a significant portion of an entire generation of Soviets grew up without a father. The post-war fatherlessness triggered the formation of radically different relationships between men and women. The tragedy of fatherlessness and single parenthood was reflected in a number of Soviet films during the 1960s-1970s.

The formation of “healthy family relationships” was the ultimate goal of social policy in the USSR.

In the 1980s, government family planning policy aimed to strengthen the notion of marriage, with its core values, ethics, and benefits. The challenge was, among other things, to help working mothers, juggling parenthood and work, while increasing the birth rate in the USSR.

1. “Carnival” (1981) by Tatiana Lioznova

Carefree Soviet girl dreams of a career on the big screen.

The 18-year-old aspiring star, raised by her single mother, leaves her small provincial hometown for Moscow, where she is determined to try her luck as a film actress. Nina Solomatina (brilliantly played by Irina Muravyeva) will have to face a series of disappointments and failures before learning the fact that life is not fluffy. But her turn will come and Nina will reunite with her remarried father (Yuri Yakovlev), find the love of her life, and eventually make her dream come true.

Watch it with English subtitles here.

2. ‘Daughters-Mothers’ (1974) by Sergei Gerasimov

A girl raised in an orphanage trips from Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) to Moscow in search of his biological mother.

A photo from the drama 'Daughters-Mothers' by Sergei Gerasimov.

His meeting with a family of refined intellectuals (husband, wife and their two young daughters) transforms Olga’s life in surprising and unexpected ways. She is always right, direct, honest and naively desperate for clarity. She sees the world in black and white, good and bad, and despises those who hesitate. And the family of intellectuals she meets is quite the opposite: they are refined, romantic and carefree. And yet, despite the obstacles, Olga will be the catalyst for positive change in the lives of each member of her new “family”.

READ MORE: Top 5 things ALL Soviet women ‘chased’

3. “Family Relations” (1982) by Nikita Mikhalkov

It became one of the most memorable roles of Nonna Mordyukova.

The playful actress played a naive country woman who comes to Moscow to visit her only daughter and granddaughter. All she wants is to mend her daughter’s broken family unit. But, the road to hell is still paved with good intentions, so the interference of the woman only causes more friction. Nikita Mikhalkov’s film is a hymn to family values ​​without the usual clichés. The socially conscious heartbreaking drama demonstrates that reconciliation with family is the surest path to harmony and happiness.

Watch it with English subtitles here.

4. “Moscow does not believe in tears” (1979) by Vladimir Menshov

Three girls share a dormitory and are determined to make it in the big city. Katerina, the most responsible of all, is asked to guard her professor’s uncle’s house in Stalin’s apartment in the heart of Moscow while he and his wife spend their vacation away from home.

The next day, the three best friends throw a big party and pretend to be the teacher’s daughters. Katerina (played by Vera Alentova) meets a handsome and modest cameraman and soon finds herself pregnant. The minute Rudik discovers that she is not a teacher’s daughter but that she works in a factory, he dumps her. “There are already four of us in two rooms and now you and your child want to move in,” complains the man’s toxic mother, personally telling Katerina to back off. Despite everything, she gives birth to a daughter, becomes a factory manager and finally meets the love of her life. “Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears” turned out to be a very likeable film and won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1981.

Watch it with English subtitles here.

5. “The Pokrovsky Gates” (1982) by Mikhail Kozakov

Artistic and brimming with witty dialogue, this bubbly comedy is nothing short of an encyclopedia of Soviet life! The film is set in the 1950s in Moscow. The main action takes place in the most ordinary Soviet communal apartment, yet it has creative, eccentric and extraordinary inhabitants, each of whom deserves a special mention.

The film centers on the charming young womanizer Kostik (played by Oleg Menshikov), who shares the apartment with his aunt and soon finds himself embroiled in a crazy adventure. Kozakov’s brilliantly filmed comedy is full of wise ideas about family relationships, with former husbands forced to share space with former wives, neighbors, friends and new relatives. A must see! Watch it with English subtitles here.

READ MORE: Top 5 ROMANTIC Soviet Movies

6. “Domestic Circumstances” (1977) by Aleksei Korenev

With the arrival of their first child, the newlyweds Lida (Marina Dyuzheva) and Igor (Evgeny Steblov) rely on the support of Igor’s mother-in-law.

But Galina Arkadyevna (Galina Polskikh), who shares an apartment with them, is not ready to adopt the conventional role of the grandmother. Family members begin to look for ways to move into a smaller apartment to live separately. This delightful comedy hasn’t lost its relevance as a classic reminder that love makes the world go round.

Watch it with English subtitles here.

7. “The Stepmother” (1973) by Oleg Bondarev

The film is about an ordinary Soviet family going through a storm. All is well in the life of Shura Olivantseva. She has a new lovingly furnished apartment, a loving and beloved husband and two children.

Just live your life and have fun. But this paradise is disturbed by little Sveta, an illegitimate daughter of Shura’s husband, Pavel. Shura (surprisingly played by Tatiana Doronina) embodies a villager whose tenderness, humanity and love resist trials and tribulations.

Watch it with English subtitles here.

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