Some of you may know that the venerable Russian studio Mosfilm recently dumped a bonanza of Soviet-era films, many of which have rarely been seen in the West, onto YouTube: a fantastic service to lovers of world cinema, right?  The only catch is that they listed all the titles and descriptions in Russian, with no indication of which movies are subtitled in English (many are). To make matters even worse, a few of the movie titles have been translated into English, but these seem to have been done at random: there’s no relationship between whether the title has been rendered in English and whether the dialogue has.

Thanks to Russian translator and “friend-of-366” Irene Goncharova, who previously gave us the lowdown on Russian cult director Rustam Khamdamov, we’re able to provide you at least with some titles, guidelines and recommendations on exploring the musty archives of Soviet films—there are some real treasures hidden there.  Irene painstakingly figured out which movies were subtitled in English and provided us with the translated titles and matching links, with some commentary of her own (her comments are marked “IG”).  We’ve included IMDB links for more information on the films along with a direct link to the full free movie on YouTube.

UPDATE 6/27: I discovered that more films are subtitled than we originally thought (Irene estimates more than 280!) Although some of the Mosfilm movies have “hard” subtitles (on the image itself), there are additional movies that offer translations via “closed captioning.” Look for a little “CC” button in the bottom right area of the YouTube player; if you see this button and push it (it’s not available on all videos), you get a “pop-up” English translation. The button will turn red when the service is active. You learn something new every day!

If you have any additions or information, leave them in the comments and we’ll incorporate them into the guide.

Let’s begin with the giant of Russian weird films, the only name here known known to Westerners: Andrei Tarkovsky (whose films Nostalghia and Stalker already grace the List of 366).  Several of the Tarkovsky pictures Mosfilm put up on YouTube (Andrei Rublev and Solaris) have already been taken down (we suspect at the request of the Criterion Collection).  The Mirror (1975), which tells a man’s life in a series of disconnected flashbacks, dreams and historical re-enactments, remains available.


Assassin of the Tsar (1991, d. Karen Shakhnazarov) – Assassin was a co-production between Mosfilm and a British studio.  It stars Malcolm McDowell as a patient in an insane asylum who believes that he assassinated the Tsar in 1918.  McDowell spoke Russian for the production and later dubbed himself into English, which can be disconcerting. [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Viy (1967, d. Georgi Kropachyov & Konstantin Yershov) – Read our review.  Virtually the only Soviet horror movie, from a Nicolai Gogol story, with a witch flying on a coffin and a horde of demons at the end.  An excellent film.

Zero Town (1990, d. Karen Shakhnazarov) – An engineer is sent to a small provincial town where everyone seems to be crazy, even the nude secretary.   This looks pretty weird.  “Staring Leonid Filatov, a very good actor.”-IG.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]


Alexander Nevsky (1938, d. Sergei Eisenstein) – Prince Nevsky turns back the invading Teutonic knights in this epic war classic.  Closed captioned (push the “CC” button for English translation).  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Ballad of a Soldier (1959, d. Grigori Chukhrai) – Romance set during WWII.  Ballad is highly regarded, but little known in the West.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

The Battleship Potemkin (1925, d. Sergei Eisenstein) – A classic of world cinema; other movies quote from Odessa steps massacre scene all the time.  Closed captioned (push the “CC” button for English translation).  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Full Moon (1998, d. Karen Shakhnazarov) – Movie about the “new Russians,” circa 1998. [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Gentlemen of Fortune (1971, d. Aleksandr Seryj) – Mistaken identity comedy involving a stolen helmet belonging to Alexander the Great.   [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Ivan Vasilievich Changes Occupations [AKA Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future] (1973, Leonid Gaidai) – Popular Soviet time travel comedy that involves an apartment manager swicthing places with Ivan the Terrible. Closed captioned (push the “CC” button for English translation).  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Jazzman (1984, d. Karen Shakhnazarov) – “A wonderful musical comedy on the origins of Soviet jazz.  Good actors and music.”–IG. [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Jewish Luck (1925, d. Alexis Granowsky) –  Silent comedy.  No music track included.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Jolly Fellows (1934, d. Grigori Alexandrov) – One of the first “talkie” musical comedies.  A shepherd is mistaken for a famous conductor.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Mimino (1977, d. Georgi Daneliya) – Comic adventures of a rural helicopter pilot in Moscow.  “A wonderful comedy with a perfect cast.”–IG [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Poisons, or the World History of Poisoning (2001, d. Karen Shakhnazarov) – Comedy (?) about the title subject, with re-enactments of historical poisonings by the Borgias and others.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

A Railway Station for Two (1982, d. Eldar Riazanov) –  Comedy/drama/romance set in Siberia.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

A Rider Named Death (2004, d. Karen Shakhnazarov) – Historical drama about terrorists in pre-Soviet Russia.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Ruslan and Ludmilla (1976, d. Aleksandr Ptushko) – “A Fairy Tale after a poem by Alexander Pushkin.”–IG.  Special effects are dated by the sets and costumes are colorful.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch Part 1 on YouTube] [Watch Part 2 on YouTube]

Sadko (1953, d. Aleksandr Ptushko) – A Russian “Sinbad” seeks the Bluebird of Happiness.  You may have seen the dubbed version of this film (The Magic Voyage of Sinbad) spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000; here’s a chance to see at as originally intended, with the Rimsky-Korsakov classical score intact.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1968, d. Aleksandr Ptushko) – Another Pushkin fairy tale adaptation.  No information on the plot. [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Two Comrades Were Serving (1968, d. Yevgueny Karelov)“A movie made to mark the 50th anniversary of the Soviets rise to power.  Yet, the film is VERY GOOD! Romantic and tragic at a time with a very good cast. “-IG. [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

Volga-Volga (1938, d. Grigori Alexandrov) – Comedy.  [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]

The White Sun of the Desert (1970, d. Vladimir Motyl) – Set in Central Asia during the Russian Civil War, the story involves a soldier pressed into guarding a harem.  “A kind of the Soviet Western. Very good cast and music. We all love it!”–IG [IMDB Entry] [Watch on YouTube]



  1. Sincere thanks to Irene for doing this. I’d been wandering aimlessly amongst the wealth of material there with no idea at all of how to begin selecting what to watch. Thank you Irene. Also, I bought Viy a while back and it is well worth watching.

    1. Thank you, Kat for your kind words and appreciation of my efforts to help movie lovers to find best and worth of watching ones in the boundless sea of Russian films. I hope to continue this pleasant job being a great champion of the old Russian/Ukrainian/Armenian/Georgian, etc. etc. movies.

  2. No mention of konstantin lopushansky, closely related to tarkovsky and really influenced by STalker in particular.

    Visitor to a Museum is sort of a retelling of the new testament set in post-apocalypse times and features a cast of probably hundreds of mentally challenged and physically deformed people. Might be offensive but they are portrayed quite humanely.

    Ugly Swans pushes the Stalker vibes even further. if the movie has a flaw its that it is way too short.

    1. I don’t doubt those are great films, but they don’t qualify for this list because they’re not official Mosfilm releases. Visitor to a Museum is from “Lenfilm” and Ugly Swans from Proline. Neither of them appear to be official releases, it looks like they were just uploaded by a film fan.

  3. I just updated the list with three more movies: the comedy Mimino and the fairy tales The Tale of Tsar Saltan and Sadko. There will probably be more updates to come.

    1. Those who do not visit the 366weird regularly, or those visiting it for the first time will never find the list and learn about it if there is no a special tag or category for the movies. Tarkovsky, Russian and Soviet is not enough. IMO

    2. Irene, I honestly don’t think the tags are that important for navigation. This post is in the category Free Online Weird Movies, which is fairly popular internal destination. The article is also doing very well in Google, behind only Mosfilm’s official channel in a search for “Mosfilm English youtube.”

  4. After discovering the “closed captioning” button and realizing that many more of these movies are translated than I first believed, I added three more titles. Two are the Sergei Eisenstein classics Battleship Potemkin (link to watch) and Alexander Nevsky (link to watch) and the third is the popular comedy Ivan Vasielevich Changes Occupations (link to watch). There may be more in the future.

  5. I am so excited to see the Mosfilm site. And the Lenfilm site! Never could have imagined having this wealth at my fingertips. Thank you Mosfilm, Lenfilm, and to Irene for helpful guidance

  6. I’ve watched many of the Mosfilm prooductions with English subtitles.
    The Eisenstein movies I saw many years ago at New York revival theaters
    like the Bleecker Street, the Garrick, the Thalia, the New Yorker, and
    the Vagabond in Los Angeles. I recommend THE FORTY FIRST (thanks to
    Pauline Kael’s KISS KISS BANG BANG) and of course THE CRANES ARE FLYING.
    Also I WALK AROUND MOSCOW; the young people are not that much different
    from their counterparts in London, Paris, Rome, and New York.

  7. I’ve been enjoying Russian film for several years now, with and without subs. I only wish I had discovered Russian language and art sooner (a younger age) and thus would probably be farther along in my skills. Many of the subtitles are excellent, but I always wonder what I am missing in the translation. Having said all that, I am deeply grateful for the generosity of Mosfilm, Lenfilm, as well as Irina’s diligent efforts, in bringing this wealth to the web. Thank God for those arts (and artists) that can bring people of all cultures closer.

  8. Afonya

    The 1975 film by Georgi Daneliya “Afonya” Athanasius,an esoteric locksmith was living a carefree life full of fun. He meditated, sometimes drank too much, led a violent life in “the world of the first attention”. So passed the day after day, but one day … What happened to Afonya says a major esoteric film of the stagnation era, affectionately camouflaged as a Soviet comedy.

    You can watch the entire film with English subtitles thanks to those nice people at Mosfilm:

  9. Hi Irene& 366 I have been roaming the internet for a while to buy “Liberation movie series 1968,” wanted to gift dvds. But not available in India, not even through online portals. Only option was left to download them using IDM or torrent, but now I have spent the whole day and I don’t think there’s any way to download them. Can you help? This is the youtube link –

  10. Do you have any information on Russian films dubbed in(to) English? Preferably online… I’m aware that there are at least a handful, found some here but looking for other resources if anybody knows.

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