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Eastern European Movies (easterneuropeanmovies.com)
388 points by danielam 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 178 comments





My favorite is 'The Saragossa Manuscript' - https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/the-saragossa-manus... - a word of warning: it's ~3h long (but well worth it) - a masterpiece of scenography and camera handling.

The second would be probably The Pharaoh - https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/drama/pharaoh - for its scenography + for the script which focuses on a quite interesting problem (politics + well.. astronomy;)

The vast majority of those movies will most likely seem quite atypical for a person who is mostly familiar with modern Hollywood/world cinema, as they're in most cases slow-paced, melancholic, and in many cases focusing on intellectually-interesting problems (e.g. The Pharaoh's 'dilemma')

I can maybe compare them to video games from 80's and 90's. Today's games are visually beautiful and movie-like, but it's those games from 80's/90's which have 'soul' and ability to captivate players through well thought-out stories and hand-drawn art.


I think mine is still Black Cat, White Cat (https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/black-cat-white-cat).

From the Romanian movies present there, I liked Aferim - https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/aferim - but only because it's a sobering look at our history; for non-romanians, it might not be so good. Filantropica (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0314067/) is also a great movie that illustrates well the post-revolution atmosphere in the country (and it's more likely to be universally-enjoyed than Aferim), but they don't have it on this site.


Romanian I would also recommend "Moartea domnului Lazarescu" https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/the-death-of-mr-laz...

That's a depressing and really slow-paced movie.. one can appreciate that this is part of the message, but honestly I don't think many people will really enjoy it. Not saying it's a bad movie... it's just that it's (intentionally) not a pleasant watching experience.

I also don't think it will leave one enlightened in any way - has the strange quality of being both accurate & misleading at the same time. Plus, the state of our medical system is a topic of interest for Romanians but not really anybody else, I believe.


> I don't think many people will really enjoy it.

Well, it has 7.9 points on IMDB based on over 13,000 votes, so there definitely seem to be some who like it!


> Black Cat, White Cat

I was introduced to this region's cinema with Kusturica's Underground.


Too bad Kusturica ruined his chance to get big in Hollywood with "Arizona Dream" which is by far hist worst film.

Black cat, white cat is excellent. I especially liked the Czech dubbing.

"The Pharaoh" is interesting in that it is based on the Polish novel by Prus which besides being (I'm sure) important to Polish literature, is also important to Esperanto culture, as Kabe's 1907's translation of it ("La Faraono") is still considered a model of clean, non-idiomatic prose in Esperanto.

"atypical" and "melancholic" feels so sugarcoated to me! Watching most of these is like letting one share some psycho-trauma with you, with little regard to balance the experience for average Joe (which I'm sure film creators have profiled many times). I understand that making a movie as niche somewhat hedges it against the fallout of ending up a commercial utter failure, but when most of the filmmakers do that the market at large is left pretty dry. Why are we chocked up with Hollywood movies? Because (just like in other industries) the local producers play it safe.

If movies were software, The Saragossa Manuscript would be a Go application and The Pharaoh — a Java application. I would add to them a JavaScript move: Innocent Sorcerers (1960; https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/melodrama/innocent-sorcere...), a paragon of intimate New Wave cinema demonstrating how to build erotic tension without any sex scenes.

> as they're in most cases slow-paced, melancholic

Only Russian.

There is a whole genre of crazy Czech comedies from the 60ies which are even better than the wellknown Japanese crazy comedies.

Hungarian movies from the 70ies were the best in the world, likewise Romanian neorealistic movies starting with the Death of Mr Lazetescu end of the 90ies. Poland dominated the 80ies.

Russian movies from the Petersburg producer group around Balabanov were outstanding in the 00ies. Still very influential.



> the wellknown Japanese crazy comedies

Teach me about those, please.


Google is your friend. Eg this one https://whatculture.com/film/10-batsht-crazy-japanese-movies...

Hausu the most famous, Crazy family was even in the theaters worldwide. Sion Sono is every year in your next film festival (Love Exposure his best), and many many batshit crazy small films. Like the crazy Czech comedies from the 60ies, my favorite being "Who killed Jessie". But also the crazy polish scifi comedies.


It’s not quite the 1970s, but I really enjoy The Witness (A tanú), a Hungarian satire of communism from 1969. I’m pleased to see that it’s available on the site and strongly recommend watching it.

> they're in most cases slow-paced, melancholic,

I wonder if national experience rubs off on movies. Many Hollywood movies have historically been optimistic because in general, a the American myth[0] has been pretty much optimistic and triumphalist (until recently, with People's History of the United States maybe the first popular work challenge the myth). Eastern Europe on the other hand has endured centuries of misery. As the war zone between Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire, as the war zone between Protestants and Catholics, as the war zone between the French and the Austrians, as the war zone between the Germans and Austrians, as the War zone between the Russians and Ottomans, as the war zone between the Germans and Russians, as the war zone between the Germans and Soviets, as the war zone between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. This suffering may have caused a certain melancholic outlook on life which is reflected in the movies.

0. The American myth goes that our forefathers came to a wilderness, built the colonies, fought and won against the super power of the age, marched West and conquered the rest of the continent, fought a war to ensure Union and free the slaves, industrialized, saved Europe twice from the Germans, became a super power, saved the world from Communism, landed a man on the moon, and is the shining city on a hill that people all over the world aspire to come to, and other countries envy. Like all myths, there is a lot that is not true, but a lot people in the US embrace this myth.


There are definitely national trends to movies. Compare the "american ending" (in which everyone gets their just deserts on-screen) with the "french ending" (which occurs in media res, allowing its viewers to debate what likely happens next). I've noticed these national trends even occur at technical conferences, where anglophone endnote speakers tend to summarise the proceedings into a coherent narrative ("conclusions"), while francophone endnote speakers tend to enumerate a bunch of loose ends that might be addressed by the next conference ("future work").

(Speaking of national trends, I was surprised to run across a russian superhero movie a couple of years ago. What other non-Hollywood countries make superhero movies?)


Americans like clear delineation between good and bad. Hero must be likable. Ending must punish the bad and reward the good. If something bad happens to character, it is punishment.

It's also very visible in games. For example in Dungeons and Dragons each character has 2-axis "alignement" - you can be any combination of lawful/neutral/chaotic and good/neutral/evil. And it has gameplay consequences - there are spells that detect if somebody is evil, weapons that can't be used by a good person, etc.

In many western computer RPGs like Bethesda or Bioware games they have big decisions with assigned "good" and "evil" choices, and the game counts how many times you have choosen each and gives you good or bad ending.

And it's even visible at the level of single quests - it's a trope that when you save someone in a game and (s)he offers you a prize you should decline and you'll almost guaranteed to get a better prize.

Compared to that Polish games (for example the Witcher series, but also This War of Mine and to a lesser degree Dying Light and Call of Juarez) have no "good" and "evil" decisions - instead you have decisions where each option is good for some reason and bad for another reason. And often there's a choice that ends bad either way (this is especially the Witcher trademark - there's like 100 different quests where you have to choose between 2 parties that are in conflict, both have reasons for their position, and both hate each other and no matter what you chose someone will suffer).

I find this much more realistic than the American good-vs-evil default.

I think it's mostly caused by recent history where Poland was saved from Nazi occupation by Soviet occupation and both murdered thousands of people - we are very aware culturally that being the enemy of one evil doesn't mean you're good. The whole Witcher franchise is exploration of lesser evil and price of neutrality.


> It's also very visible in games. For example in Dungeons and Dragons each character has 2-axis "alignement" - you can be any combination of lawful/neutral/chaotic and good/neutral/evil.

Note that D&D got this from Michael Moorcock [1], who is a British sword and sorcery author, and in whose works being Chaotic or Lawful is much less clear-cut, morally speaking. So I m not sure that D&D is a good example of "American thinking".

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Moorcock


Well USA and UK is basically the same culture when you look from outside anglosphere.

Traditional western fantasy is all about Good vs Evil and Tolkien was technically British as well.

Compare that to the Witcher book series where the evil slavery empire fights the evil racist kingdoms who are racist towards elves (who have their own racist empire on another plane where they genocided humans). And the only good guy is a hired mutant hunter who strives to be neutral (and through the books learns that he can't).


Yes, maybe I was unclear: it's both that Moorcock is British and anti-Tolkien (seriously: read his essay "Epic Pooh" [1] about Tolkien: Moorcock hates his guts). Moorcock's writings are pretty much a subversion of the usual Evil vs Good tropes, the Hero's Journey, etc.

I agree with you Tolkien is indeed a good exponent of the Good vs Evil mentality.

----

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20161013045857/http://www.revolu...


I've read his Runestaff cycle and it felt pretty Good vs Evil to me. Maybe because I was like 13 then so I mostly read for cool fights etc :)

I've also read a few books about Elric and they felt a lot like Conan which I guess is another example of non Good-vs-Evil fantasy in English, so that's 2.


Elric is pretty much the opposite of Good-vs-Evil. Or rather, it's Gray-vs-Trying-To-Be-Good-But-Destroying-Everything-You-Hold-Dear ;)

In a pretty good subversion of the hero's journey, Elric starts a powerful ruler and wizard (though a sickly, drug-addicted one), and doesn't set off on adventures to gain power. And his patron gods are the gods of Chaos, not the gods of Law. Elric is an anti-hero in contrast to Tolkien's more clear-cut heroes.

Even the game Dungeons & Dragons explores the implications of having interesting True Neutral or morally gray characters, or situations where being classically "good" is not possible or desirable.


I've read a few books from middle of the cycle (because that's what my countryside library had in 90s). So it's possible I missed the point. But I remember not being impressed.

As for D&D the alignment mechanic feels very artificial and is often houseruled out altogether here. Fun fact - in Poland the most popular ttrpg was (and probably still is) Warhammer FRPG, not D&D. And it's considerably more shades of gray and pessimistic than D&D :) D&D was often considered backward and "for kids" compared to the "real" RPGs, it changes a little with 5e because of Critical Role and all the hype.

But that success of Warhammer was mostly caused by being the first AAA quality RPG to be published in Poland and making a big marketing campaign in 90s, so that's not an argument for or against the cultural differences.


Well, Warhammer's Chaos gods are also inspired by Moorcock ;)

Warhammer is definitely more shades of gray than D&D, but I think D&D has some of that too, especially with its less common (and less heroic) settings such as Planescape, Dark Sun, etc.

PS: in case you're a Pole, how did you like Netflix's Witcher? Years ago I read the English translation of The Last Wish and it felt very fresh to me -- I really liked that the monsters are non-standard, it resembled Jack Vance's fiction in that way -- but stopped short of the novels, because what I've been told about them didn't impress me. I really, really liked the short stories though.


I liked it, but it's not as good as I imagined it would be. They skipped a lot of the nuances and philosophy and just made Geralt grunt and curse, especially the talking in the short story with elves and the goat-man was great and they cut it beyond recognition. Sapkowski's main strength is dialogs so that was sad.

But it's still much better than Polish movie about Witcher from 2000. It was the biggest disappointment of my youth :)


Geralt come across as asshole, but in the books he is not. He has banter with friend in the books, in the series he is just dick. In the books witchers are said to not have emotions, but he has them right and left.

Other then that, it matches.


> and the game counts how many times you have choosen each and gives you good or bad ending.

Yep. And in dishonored, the bad ending is talked about as "punishment" or consequences for the player.

You simply cant make good choices ethically and get bad ending.


Have you seen the mist, cause I would not classify the ending of that movie that way.

I think he's talking generic. Most(not all) of the USA movies are good/bad clearly defined, even physically the good guy is handsome while the bad guy is not, is a "trope". It's more clearly defined than in movies from other parts of the world.Not always and not in every movie, not every character but most of them. If you prefer you can tell is a Hollywood thing.

>(Speaking of national trends, I was surprised to run across a russian superhero movie a couple of years ago. What other non-Hollywood countries make superhero movies?)

India of course.


India manages to make even non-superhero film look like superhero one. Japan made also quite a few superhero films.

> What other non-Hollywood countries make superhero movies

I can think of a smattering of Japanese ones like Ogon Bat, there's the Western European Uderzo/Goscinny "heroes" of Asterix and Lucky Luke, and Hong Kong's martial-arts based superheroes steeped in Wuxia tradition.

(And of course Bollywood and Mainland China have shamelessly ripped off Marvel/DC heroes and plots.)


That's one of my 'jokes' with my Polish half of the family: Poland chose just about the shittiest place to be in: a plane between Prussians, Russians, Austrians...

By the way, don't forget the most important internal divide in Eastern Europe: orthodox vs catholics.


I don't know.

A remark I often make with my family is: Poland is about the optimal spot on the planet! We have mild climate, no weird weather events besides an occasional flood, no earthquakes, volcanos, etc. We have sea access and mountains to scale. We're just about enough developed a country for a comfortable lifestyle. Our crazies, both left-wing and right-wing, are just mildly crazy compared to countries around us. We have enough resources to live off and sell, but nothing so substantial as to induce a resource curse (and in particular, no oil = nobody will come to bring us Freedom). We're not the bleeding edge, but also not the lagging tail. We're comfortably average.


Same for Romania - good climate, access to the Carpathians and the Black Sea. However, I find my people to be pretty pessimistic altough I now believe we actually have it a bit better than we think.

Don't forget the Mongols/Tatars. There were serious raids even in 15th century and Poland's mostly plain and open landscape made things so easy for the raiders!

Orthodox vs Catholic became much simpler after Turks invaded Europe. Austrians got along with Russia reasonably well.

Yeah, no. Try to tell that to Serbs and Croats.

Yeah, Austrians did.

> As the war zone between Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire, as the war zone between Protestants and Catholics, as the war zone between the French and the Austrians, as the war zone between the Germans and Austrians, as the War zone between the Russians and Ottomans, as the war zone between the Germans and Russians, as the war zone between the Germans and Soviets, as the war zone between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. This suffering may have caused a certain melancholic outlook on life which is reflected in the movies.

I think you missed perhaphs the greatest tragedy (apart from both world wars and the Holocaust, which also very disproportionally touched Poland, as Poland hosted by far the most Jews in Europe at that time), which was the introduction of Leninist/Stalinist variant of Communism. Hitler was a monster, by he ruled over us for just a few years, while the communists destroyed societies for decades...


Both of those are great movies that are even more amazing books. Saragossa Manuscript in particular if you like gothic/spooky fiction; it's a lot older than Poe.

>The Saragossa Manuscript

As a Spaniard, the usage of Flamenco chords in Aragon puts me really out of place.


On a related note, Mosfilm has a Youtube channel with high quality version of many of their films, including most Tarkovsky. The channels is all in Russian but English sub are typically available, and search works in English too.

With regards to copyrights, it seems all films released after 1973 are covered by it, however the laws between ex-Soviet countries differ. Sources:

http://www.kirj.ee/public/trames_pdf/2014/issue_3/Trames-201...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_the_Soviet_Un...

I would encourage people to use legal means to watch these movies, especially in Europe where many of them have been re-published legally with English subs, often by small/indie companies.


The other day I watched "White Sun of the Desert", and found it excellent: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066565/ - very much reminded me of the Dollars trilogy.

(recommendation from Chris Hadfield, of all people; apparently this film is traditional to watch the night before Soyuz launches)


Wow. This was one of the most watched movies around our household during my childhood.

The place in the movie is just near my hometown, old Merv in Turkmenistan.


Thankyou! I spent quite a lot of the film wondering where these amazing locations were.

A.k.a. the "Eastern" genre (as opposed to "Western" movies).

"Mosfilm" is a good search term and for more lighter and fun content is "Soyuzmultfilm", which is kind of the Russian Disney. Especially the older children series like Cheburashka are interesting and contemporary Masha and the Bear is immensely popular.

Some previously mentioned childrens' programming: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23387876

Masha i Medved[1] have recently been running a series in which each episode focuses on a different country. Today's happens to be the US[2]:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5sMJtXcZTo

"Tell me Mr. Siberian Bear, where does power come from? The Hare says it comes from money. I say it comes from truth."

Getting things past the censors: https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Файл:Sharik_Figvam.jpg

[1] itself a reference to a folk tale, while "immensely popular" means Masha has even been a guest on the same late night talk show frequented by better US ambassadors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmcHXt1va_c

[2] just in case any americans are curious about what what parts of their culture make it across the Bering strait.

"American Boy" (1991), a song by a late-soviet pop group, may also be of interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7hAo28NCXc (Apina and Varum have gone on to lasting fame)


> "Tell me Mr. Siberian Bear, where does power come from? The Hare says it comes from money. I say it comes from truth."

This is straight from a cult Russian movie Brother 2 (Brat 2)


I could not find them on Eastern European Movies but the movies directed by Andrei Tarkovsky left an impression at me. While some were made when he lived in exile and are therefore technically not Eastern European they still fit the genre. Besides the obvious Solaris and Stalker I can recommend Nostalghia and especially The Sacrifice.

On a more lighter note I really enjoyed the children movies and TV series that were made in Czechoslovakia in the 80s a lot as kid and so does my kid today. My favorite is The Visitors aka Adam '84. Classics are also Pan Tau, all the fairy tale movies from Hofman/Polák, Lucie, postrach ulice and Létající Čestmír. Generally everything out of studio Barrandov is worth to have a look at.


I love The Visitors - it has a great mix of fun and playfulness combined with a touch of beautiful nostalgia, anyone who has ever traveled to some distant location and had the time of their life there can relate.

Also, when you mentioned Czechoslovak children movies, it reminded me of Karel Zeman. Some of those are poetic but surprisingly dark, like Krabat - The Sorcerer's Apprentice - https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/animation/krabat-the-sorce...


Andrei Tarkovsky was one of the greatest film directors, ever.

Here is a shot vs shot comparison with Iñárritu's 2016 The Revenant film which won an Oscar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpcdhNq_VPM


It took me a bit to figure out what I was watching. It's a comparison between scenes from "The Revenant" and scenes from various films directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.

For me there are six genius level directors: Tarkovsky, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Fellini, Chaplin and Kurosawa.

Amongst them, at least for me, Tarvosky's movies stays with you longer, and take a little time to digest. Movies are a language that can go straight to your subconscious and great cinematographers knew this.

Edit: Bergman might belong to that list too.


They look nothing alike, it's a distant reach. It's sad that someone even attempted that comparison given how weak the link is. There's a reason that shot by shot only has about 30 seconds of remotely similar footage.

Do you show an object under water or a person traipsing through a field? Now you're just ripping off Tarkovsky. Do you show a person with a sign on them (old westerns anyone?), or a family in a bed, now you're just ripping off Tarkovsky.


I'm so happy to see someone enjoying The Visitors. For me it was among the best sci-fi series I have ever seen.


Don't forget Křeček v noční košili!

It's been some decades since I watched Visitors, but isn't that basically a Czechoslovakian take on Doctor Who?

It is about a future where the Central Brain of Humanity predicts an asteroid impact with Earth. They identified the only person who could help them - but he lived in the past. The Central Brain had an error during calculations for the time travel and the "landing" party got a lot of years too early - and the show is about the rest.

In many cases they're directly on YT - (Solaris by Tarkovsky) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-4KydP92ss

That may be regional; I get “This video is not available” from Canada or the US.

Couple years ago, my american boss mentioned that he liked the poisoned cup scene in Princess Bride, and if you do also, you should watch the poisoned cup scene in "The Emperor and the Golem". The movie itself I am not sure, but the sheer brilliance of that one scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zYy9lXwumQ (unfortunately no subtitles)

The premise of the scene is that emperor Rudolf II. invites Tycho de Brahe to explain heliocentrism, and he uses cups of wine to demonstrate, but the emperor's one is poisoned.


The scene actually works pretty well without knowing exactly what they're saying. The viewer needs a little context as to why the one man is rotating the glasses, but most everything else can be figured out just by watching.

That said, I found some English subtitles to this movie online and have put them below for anyone interested (along with approximate time stamps to make it easier to follow along with the video).

-------------

Emperor: (0:00)

Lang, the breakfast is excellent. It's better here than the emperor's. And your wine, too, is better. Pour me another glass. And the teacher will have the goodness to complete Copernicus's explanation.

Tycho Brahe: (0:13)

My colleague, Copernicus, Sire, has different views from mine. According to his theory, it's not the Earth which is the center of the universe, but the sun. Imagine the sun ... Let's say the glass is ... the sun. The sun, therefore, remains motionless. And the other planets revolve around it in a certain order. Mercury ... Venus ... Earth ... Mars ... And the others ... The closest planet is Mercury. Suppose this is ... Mercury. Here, Venus.

Emperor: (1:06)

Where is the earth?

Tycho [taking the Emperor's cup]: (1:07)

Excuse me, sire. Here is the earth. Beside it, the moon. Mars. Then, Jupiter and Saturn. And imagine, sire, that all movement of the universe ... takes place simultaneously and reciprocally. Everything rotates ... turns ... closer ... and further away. And amidst all this ... according to their fixed orbit ... Saturn and Jupiter. It is an ingenious mechanism.

Emperor: (1:49)

And no collision ?

Tycho: (1:51)

It is not excluded. There are planets wandering whose orbit is not fixed. And if one of them, accidentally knocked on ... Excuse me, sire.

Emperor: (1:59)

There is no harm, Professor. In fact, what planet have you thrown?

Noblemen: (2:04)

- It was my moon! - No, it was my Mars! - You are mistaken, it was my Mercury! - This was my Venus!

Emperor: (2:09)

Gentlemen, such noise for a few drops of wine.

Lang: (2:12)

That is to say, sire ... we don't know which cup was yours.

Emperor: (2:15)

It's not important. And no more arguing. Lang, pour me another drink. The professor's sun did not reverse. We can drink to his health. Gentlemen, raise your glasses. To our teacher !

Emperor: (2:34)

Gentlemen, what's going on ? Raise your mugs. Long live our teacher ! Well, gentlemen ? What, did you poison my wine ? Cheers

Emperor: (2:57)

What's [going] on ? The wine is no good ?


Very good scene.

Another interesting thing: I think blackface appears in the last cut.


Based on what he is wearing, he is a chimney sweeper.

Yup. Those have common place in Czech fairy tales.

I recommend Kin Dza Dza, an old Russian sci-fi with some unique ideas and nice world-building.

Also has a very good animated remake: https://youtu.be/tRwuvQUSG5c


I just saw кин-дза-дза for the first time this last weekend and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's just genius, and hilarious. It feels like Soviet Terry Gilliam, but definitely unique and artful in its own right.

I always use cak(the bell that a certain class has to wear on their nose) as a metaphor for current mask usage. :D Source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/oCmUxI1UdME/maxresdefault.jpg

Could you clarify connection between masks in current health situation and 'certain class has to wear'?

They didn’t mean that a certain class has to wear masks. Just reminds them of the bells.

That fits so well! After we saw this movie, me and my friends said Koo a lot. Maybe we’ll start this too. ^^

"Ребят, как же это вы без гравицаппы пепелац выкатываете из гаража? Это непорядок!"

This and Stalker, I think are one of the best Soviet sci-fi movies. But unlike Stalker, Kin-Dza-Dza is very difficult to understand for foreigners (based on watching it with different people over the years). Only someone who lived through transition from Communism to Capitalism will relate to the protagonist.

Koo!

I took a quick glance through the Polish collection and I was floored by how gorgeous the majority of posters were. Many of them made intriguing statements about the movie without giving anything away, and they looked so perfectly designed.

I understand there's business motivations behind today's bland "cram in the stars, put on an organge/purple filter, and throw an explosion in the background" approach, but I'd be so much more likely to click a streaming link and/or buy a physical copy if it was displayed with an enticing work of art.



As someone who grew up in the Eastern Bloc and went through the usual hipster phases in my youth, we used to think of movies made in the West as "commercial" movies - as in, they had to make a buck, and were forced to make compromises for that reason.

The truth is somewhere in between, and everywhere else at the same time, of course, but that current of thought was quite prevalent in my social circles back then.



There's a link to Soviet & Russian movies at the bottom.

Having seen a lot of them, I can recommend this, being my favorite movie of all time:

https://sovietmoviesonline.com/melodrama/252-zhenya-zhenechk...

It's about a dreamer misfit during wartime and his relationship with the world and a romantic interest in particular. This movie in many ways showcases the best qualities in people, and highlights the random nature of the world. The way the main character and others deal with what comes their way is so deeply human and sincere, I consider this movie a timeless masterpiece for anyone who identifies with the main character.

One more movie that I think a larger audience may appreciate, is the most famous movie to have been made in Russia (not USSR) called 'Brat' (Brother).

https://sovietmoviesonline.com/melodrama/68-brat.html

Having talked about it with many people, people see and appreciate different aspects of it but one comment I've heard over and over again, is that it speaks deeply to the way Russian people felt, during those difficult and chaotic years (1990s).


The Red, White and Blue trilogy by Krzysztof Kieślowski is pretty cool. Each film is beautifully shot with theme and a color grading matching its title.

I've seen Blue in film, in an old historic cinema in Vancouver called The Roxy. To this day it's made me appreciate the dynamic range of film. And just sitting there through out this film, and being enveloped in different shades of blue light for two hours.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Colours_trilogy


Leviatan is a stark insight into corruption in Russia https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2802154/

Funny enough it's based on the American "killdozer" incident. Excellent film though.

I didn't know that.

So happy to see the Dekalog here. It's hard to find it streaming. Dekalog 1 is a particularly relevant film for HN since it deals with a programmer and his idolization of technology. There's a small moment at a shrine with wax that is immensely beautiful. Kieslowski has such a great eye for the small details and poetry within the scene.

Has anyone been able to identify what is the name of the organisation behind the website and where is it legally established?

I would like to know if the access fee benefits the artists in any way - the east european movie industry is not exactly swimming in money.


I wondered about this too. In the DMCA policy they state that authors can self-publish on their platform but they don't monitor, screen or review uploaded media, which means they don't have any contact with the authors. Too bad. They could start getting infringement notices.

But in most of the eastern Europe movies are not commercial anyway. They are financed by different sponsorships from state and local companies. They don't make a lot of money once they are made, with rare exceptions. For older movies it's hard to find actual copyright owners. I think some of them could be considered abandonware.


Love the idea. I'll have to browse their lists and look for some new movies to watch.

I did notice North Macedonia is missing from the list so here are a couple of recommendations for amazing movies (imo) for those interested:

- Honeyland (2019, Oscar nominee, Documentary)

- Before the Rain (1994, Oscar nominee, Drama)

- Bal-Can-Can (2005, 2nd highest grossing)

- Secret Ingredient (2017, comedy)


>> North Macedonia is missing from the list

It seems there are only old (before 1990) films there. The list of the countries is from that time: Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia.


Honeyland is a masterpiece!

cool site!

Russia (USSR) wasn't on the list, but I can recommend THE IRONY OF FATE (1976)

> The film is widely regarded as a classic piece of Russian popular culture and is traditionally broadcast in Russia and almost all former Soviet republics every New Year's Eve (Andrew Horton and Michael Brashinsky likened its status to that held by Frank Capra's 1946 It's a Wonderful Life in the United States as a holiday staple).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Irony_of_Fate


You can watch some Polish movies with English subs on Studio Filmowe TOR channel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPZJOdnu_og&list=PL2gv9m758a...

Super! This may well beat the old school method, which involved searching for video and subtitles separately (if not simply watching undubbed).

I found: https://sovietmoviesonline.com/ru/melodrama/345-dom-durakov.... (set in the chechen wars) but can't remember the name of a former-yugoslav dark comedy, in which a bunch of slavs go underground during WWII, only to emerge forty years later to find the countryside is riven by war and everyone is still fighting "fascists". (on the other hand, maybe it's just as well, given how many former-yugoslavia refugees we have in my area, that I've forgotten how to say "flipping fascist melonfarmers" in one of their local languages) Can any kind HN'ers remind me? Thanks!

Incidentally, comparing soviet-era movies to western fare clearly shows how different the censorship was on each side of the iron curtain. One can probably quickly get an idea just from browsing the placards, without even watching any.


> but can't remember the name of a former-yugoslav dark comedy, in which a bunch of slavs go underground during WWII

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_(1995_film)


Dziękuję ci

Don't use word-for-word translations, they sound odd

For the czechen war I recommend Balabanov's War (Wojna).

Kusturica is of course an old classic, but they have many more and better comedians. Selimir Silnik for example.


If that's the catchphrase I think,"flipping fascist melonfarmers" is the tamest translation of Serbian profanity ever.

Oh, this is amazing!

I live in Poland and recently played Witcher 3. It made me realize how different it is from many Hollywood tropes. It really has a distinct European vibe.

There are so many movies here, that I didn't know about!


My recomendations from the Polish cinematography:

"The promised Land" (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072446): a film set during the rapid development of textile industry in XIX century Łódź, where fortunes could be made relatively quickly.

"Camouflage" (legal link with Eng subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciGr-hi9He4): a story of a PhD student entering the corrupted science world of communist Poland. Relevant to basically anyone who has to function within a corrupted institution (which makes all of us?).

"The structure of crystal" (legal link with Eng subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qozV9J8bVA0): similar to the previous one (same director), but this time the young PhD student explores more philosophical questions.

There's plenty more of great stuff if one wants to explore (Kieślowski, Wajda, Zanussi, the whole movement of "cinema of moral anxiety"), Polish cinema during communism was really prolific for some reason.


Any chance you remember the name of the movie that is about dwarfs living in a weird totalitarian regime trying to get some magic potion and escape to our normal-sized world? I saw it as a child and I loved it but I only remember it vaguely.

If you liked that, Seksmisja is similar (also a comedy, by the same director) - it's a story of two guys waking up in the future from a scientific project studying hiberation, finding out that all men are extinct (the women reproduce via labs) and the world is a sort of all-women Orwellian dystopia. Very funny.

Kingsajz (1987). Love the movie!

I can't recommend `The Cremator` enough https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/the-cremator

I did not see this one: Ulysses and the Stars (1976)

Loved it when I was a child. But I will give you a few excellent Russian movies:

Duelist https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5282006/

Kollector https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5031998/

Mermaid (more a girls movie but underrated in my opinion) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7162390/


Corpus Christi is a good recent one I loved.

I love watching movies in local language, will have to look into these.

Others being Aurora and Parasite.


If you buy a membership for a month you can download (as opposed to stream-only) any movie you like with all the subtitles!

My favorite so far has been Wajda's 1977 Man of Marble. An oddly magnetic and fast-paced film that captures the spirit of unbridled, unrealistic optimism (the Soviet, communist variety) and its detriments. You will fall in love with Birkut's herculean brick-laying powers!

I also love Daisies and Pearls of the Deep (both Vera Chytolova) - solid gems of the Czech New Wave. Anyone who loves reading magical realist novels - Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kundera - would also enjoy these films.


Who pays for membership to illegally redistributed content portals? You can download same movies from other pirate streaming sites(yes, this one is not legal in any way shape or form) for free, in higher quality as a bonus.

Man of Marble has a sequel, Man of Iron, but it is rather a letdown. Dives too much into the then-current political zeitgeist and loses the timelessness the Man of Marble has.

What's the quality of the downloads? Wondering if these are high-quality restored movies or some random YT downloads.

The ones I've watched seem to be higher quality than some of the same films on YouTube - the subtitles are certainly much better quality, which is the reason I was willing to pay and download several films for which I had a harder time finding accurate (not automatically generated) subtitles.

Do you have some numbers to share in terms of file size and resolution?

Here's something unusual:

https://www.netflix.com/pl-en/title/81232964?preventIntent=t...

It's a story about a man obsessed with fishing.

Notable is the fact that this is a movie adaptation of an internet copypasta.


This is absolutely brilliant. Thank you.

I've seen the pasta dozens of times on the web, but never heard about this movie before. The trailer starts with those exact words being read off the screen, ROTFL.

I had my worries about Piotr Cyrwus but the way he said "skurwysyny" addressing the angler's association got me sold.

I think he deserves some special credits after "escaping" Klan trap

For people interested in surrealities of living under the iron curtain https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/teddy-bear by Stanislaw Bareja is an absolute classic.

Not much here for Estonian movies, but Kevade is the obvious standout; it isn’t my favorite older Estonian film, though. I’d recommend trying to find The Last Relic (Viimne reliikvia), if you get the chance. It’s a medieval adventure with some catchy songs, especially “Põgene, vaba laps!”

Those are influencial in local culture, but probably don't mean much for foreigners. "Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel" in other hand is good international film.

The German section is seriously confusing because it contains both West- and East-German movies (and with no further indication which is which). E.g. a movie like "Sexy Sisters" would be very untypical for any Eastern European country I think ;)

That section is pretty pointless, considering it's supposed to be the GDR (see flag). You would have to do research on what movie actually belongs there and which do not.

Curated list of Eastern EU movies (good), asking to pay for a pirated content? (bad)

This looks like an illegal streaming service hiding behind a beautiful website.

It sure does, uploads are scene/torrent releases. On the other hand this is how you do business in Central/Eastern Europe.

For example www.cda.pl. Owners, father and son, build OdSiebie.com mega like pirate content sharing website in 2008 and got raided by Police/BSA in 2009. One year was enough to earn so much money to lawyer up and win unwinnable court case :o. With this experience and first class legal team they started another pirate streaming website www.cda.pl with small twist - DMCA submit form (triggering instant reupload of reported content from one of many bot accounts, so no loss for the portal). Progressively paid Premium option started sharing revenue with legit Movie distributors, instead of DMCA you could claim your content and join profit redistribution program. In 2012 they made $10K profit, 2013 $300K, 2014 >$1. Today CDA makes >$1mil legal profit per quarter and is listed on the stock exchange with $80mil capitalization. This is towering over other local options like Netflix and Amazon. They are ranked higher than twitch, netflix or pornhub in traffic and attention.

https://www.marketscreener.com/CDA-S-A-58002347/

Polish source https://technologia.dziennik.pl/internet/artykuly/504361,cda...


> On the other hand this is how you do business in Central/Eastern Europe.

Honestly, I don't see it. This approach you've highlighted is the same one that YouTube took in the early days (excl. the bot accounts) there is nothing except perhaps for lax regulation and enforcement that made it possible in CEE.


Not only Eastern Europe, Crunchyroll started out the same way. At the beginning they were an illegal streaming site with fansub translations, and gradually they transformed into a fully legit anime streaming service.

Damn, thanks - I always wonder how they managed to survive all these years.

Where else would you find original, non English content? They keep that behind their iron media curtains for some reason and there's no other way to discover or get them.

I think these sites do more for Eastern European cinema than whatever else it is they do there.


Criterion Channel and MUBI are two streaming services I can think of off the top of my head, plus there's a much wider selection of physical releases. Nothing is "behind their iron media curtains".

> iron media curtains

You mean like itunes, hbo, netflix catalogues in countries outside US? It's just that there is no interest in seeing these movies.


That's of course a very America-centric view. You don't think those countries have their own (smaller) Netflix competitors that make it nigh impossible to get the content outside of the country? The budgets of these competitors are also very, very different.

There is also interest, otherwise sites like these wouldn't pop up.


You can find many east european movies on youtube. Try doing the same for Adam Sandler's netflix movie.

You could even watch Memories of Murder on youtube just until Parasite won an oscar. Then they started carring. And this is a relatively new movie of a known director.

Distribution is a problem but saying this isn't blatant piracy is wrong.


private torrents, this a parasite website built on the hard work of people who took great time and effort to archive these movies.

Why does hosting what was privately distributed before make it "parasitic"? Sounds a lot like gatekeeping to me.

Plus the movies aren't that high in quality - many are only in SD when 2K or even 4K restorations are available, and many are marked as HD even though they are clearly upscaled from SD. If you really wanna watch them, just pirate them and watch them in better quality and do not support this shady website.

Highly recommend "On the silver globe". Polish sci-fi masterpiece

Awesome, I see some of my favorite movies there. Too bad that many times there is "The movie is not available" although the page for the movie lists very specific list of subtitles - is this some geo-blocking thing? For example this one... https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/the-cremator

EDIT: After going through many movies, it seems that the majority is not available, at least not to me.


I used to find vo movies on YT then find subtitles separately by searching on Yandex (which also had some videos that weren't available on YT).

Nice initiative. There are plenty of movies coming from these parts that never got the exposure they deserve. For instance a very little known fact is that the premiere of The Goat Horn[1] was postponed by the Soviet Union's order because it had a really strong chance in beating Tchaikovsky (Russian-made film) in the Oscars.

[1] https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/drama/the-goat-horn


A great masterpiece for me is https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/whos-singin-over-th... It is such a joy to watch. Totally exotic, showing a glimpse of a lost world, with a sense of humor, but at the same time with some serious themes. It's a legennd in ex-Yugoslavian countries, but virtually unknown abroad.

I recommend “Underground” and “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”

I can't recommend 'Lepa sela lepo gore' (https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/pretty-village-pret...) enough. IMO, it is one of the best and most underrated war films of all time. A tense depiction of the Bosnian conflict with a healthy amount of dark comedy thrown in there.

Lithuanian: "Forest of the Gods"

(https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0453366) The story about one man- an artist and an intellectual- who was imprisoned by two brutal regimes, the Nazis and the Soviets. 'The Professor' is a man who lives by his own personal version of the Ten Commandments. After miraculously surviving imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp through a bit of ironic fate, he writes a memoir of his life, which becomes the target of the Soviet censors. The so-called "freedom" of Communism becomes just as oppressive as the German concentration camp. -Anonymous


"Forest of the Gods" is a very good film.

But there are a few Lithuanian films that are my all-time favourites (besides "Forest of the Gods"):

1. "The Ancient Woods": https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/487463-the-ancient-woods

"The Ancient Woods" is, perhaps, the best film I ever watched—it is actually a documentary.

It has one shot with a human and there are no human voices in the whole film.

It is a love letter to the "untouched nature" (of Lithuania).

2. "The Collectress": https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/56074-kolekcionier

3. "You Am I": https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/12681-a-esi-tu

4. "Vanishing Waves": https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/133764-aurora

5. "The Summer of Sungaile": https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/310568-the-summer-of-sangai...

And some to not use too much the brain and have a fun time:

* "Redirected" (by the way, in English): https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/190469-redirected-u-lietuv

* "Patriotai" ("Patriots"): https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/408809-patriotai

* "How Saul and Paul Robbed Them All": https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/349954-how-saul-and-paul-ro...

---

Just to add to your comments, the events on (the book) "Forest of the Gods" (which the film is based on) are based on the real experience of the main character, "the Professor" [1].

There are some criticism on whether the events are 100% faithful to the reality [2], but indifferent to that, it is a hell of a piece of art!

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balys_Sruoga

[2]: I am sorry, but I don't remember where I got that information. It is not that important, anyhow.


No Russendisko unfortunately, but I guess that's German and not technically Easter-European.

That film is my white-whale, Ive searched high and low for a copy of it with english subtitles since I saw the trailer back in 2011 or 2012. Mainly I just want to see it because I'm a fan of the band Leningrad and they did some of the soundtrack.


There are quite a few Kieslowski videos:

https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/?s=Kieslowski

His Blue, White, Red series as well as Decalog are well worth watching. I especially loved "Red" as I recall -- saw it many years ago.


Here's a masterpiece almost unknown outside the Latvian community:

A Limousine the Colour of Midsummer's Eve https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469785/


There's a small but mighty new project "Netflix for modern Ukrainian cinema" called Takflix https://takflix.com/en/?lang_id=2

Very sad to see Greece missing from this. Theo Angelopoulos was a world class director.

Greece isn't so much on the Eastern Bloc, I guess, so that's probably why.

Neither is Germany. The DDR, sure but there are movies from West Germany there too, e.g. World on a Wire.

Yeah, I think they kind of mixed up there with the DDR, as West Germany is the only exception.

Make yourself a favour and watch Rane (The Wounds) https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/comedy/the-wounds

Hmm, only paypal payments, no contact details, not sure I'd put my cash here..

This website looks absolutely amazing. The only thing that would improve it for me would be increasing some of the font sizes. Apart from that it is one of the most beautiful websites I have run across in a long while.

This is great, anyone got a source of EE children's movies?

One of my favorites is a Czech one called At Ziji Duchove, basically the local troup of young pioneers team up with some medieval ghosts from the local castle to fight some capitalists

Wow

"Leon, the 40-year-old former soldier who is an alcoholic now, gets a job as a bodyguard. His duty is to take care of one of the Mafia leader’s daughters. His problems begin when he falls in love with the 16-year-old girl."

Watch your steps, Leon.


I can highly recommend The Fifth Seal. It's a masterpiece.

missing Macedonian movies, like "before the rain"

[flagged]


Partial differential equations are indeed interesting to artists - https://processing.org/

Ok, but please don't post unsubstantive comments here.

they are the same thing

Only Hollywood can make watchable movies.

It’s interesting, at least for me, I couldn’t watch most recent hollywood movies, they’re too predictible and barren of essence. Older hollywood movies are a different story but what’s been coming out lately I find highly unwatchable.

For you, maybe.

Communism came with heavy censorship. You had to be sly to pass some jokes.

For instance, Seksmisja features a scene where two guys end up in the middle of nowhere. One says "let's go east, there must be civilization there". The east if of course a dab at the Soviet Union. There were jokes that 99% of the population would understand, and yet the censors would miss them.


I seriously doubt censors missed that. I think they were playing the game as well. Seksmisja quote is a good example of that.

The entire premise of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welcome,_or_No_Trespassing is that people who seek power (and hence rise in bureaucracies) take themselves way too seriously. So maybe all a censor had to do was to make sure the jibes were cerebral enough that uncultured people would automatically take the opposite[1] Poe's Law interpretation...

[1] for polyvalence, cue the Stalin/moustache joke

(Based on Boyarskiy's stage personality, I'm guessing the following had some ambiguity:

    Пора пора порадуемся на своем веку
    Красавице и кубку, счастливому клинку
despite being the theme song for a kid's show. Or am I overinterpreting?)

Wait, that song was a theme song for a kids show? I only knew if as a song from the soviet interpretation of "The Three Musketeers".

That's what I was thinking of (most recently seen by me in a Rule 63 quartet complete with costume horses for New Year's carnival).

Sorry if it wasn't a kids' show; I had assumed so from the all the YouTube comments when I discovered it to the effect of "cool, I totally remember watching this at my grandmother's." But maybe that says more about how old current internauts were in 1978 than what the target audience really had been?


I wonder if critics would have issues with Seksmisja today - especially the ending shot.

Yes, artists were getting very creative with censorship during communism. A lot of those movies are masterpieces



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