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.
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.
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.
Well, it has 7.9 points on IMDB based on over 13,000 votes, so there definitely seem to be some who like it!
I was introduced to this region's cinema with Kusturica's Underground.
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.
I can go on and on ;).
Teach me about those, please.
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.
I wonder if national experience rubs off on movies. Many Hollywood movies have historically been optimistic because in general, a the American myth 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.
(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?)
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.
Note that D&D got this from Michael Moorcock , 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".
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).
I agree with you Tolkien is indeed a good exponent of the Good vs Evil mentality.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But it's still much better than Polish movie about Witcher from 2000. It was the biggest disappointment of my youth :)
Other then that, it matches.
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.
India of course.
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.)
By the way, don't forget the most important internal divide in Eastern Europe: orthodox vs catholics.
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.
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...
As a Spaniard, the usage of Flamenco chords in Aragon puts me really out of place.
With regards to copyrights, it seems all films released after 1973 are covered by it, however the laws between ex-Soviet countries differ. Sources:
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.
(recommendation from Chris Hadfield, of all people; apparently this film is traditional to watch the night before Soyuz launches)
The place in the movie is just near my hometown, old Merv in Turkmenistan.
Masha i Medved have recently been running a series in which each episode focuses on a different country. Today's happens to be the US:
"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:
 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.
 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)
This is straight from a cult Russian movie Brother 2 (Brat 2)
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.
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...
Here is a shot vs shot comparison with Iñárritu's 2016 The Revenant film which won an Oscar:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
And no collision ?
It is not excluded. There are planets wandering whose orbit is not fixed. And
if one of them, accidentally knocked on ... Excuse me, sire.
There is no harm, Professor. In fact, what planet have you thrown?
- It was my moon!
- No, it was my Mars!
- You are mistaken, it was my Mercury!
- This was my Venus!
Gentlemen, such noise for a few drops of wine.
That is to say, sire ... we don't know which cup was yours.
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 !
Gentlemen, what's going on ? Raise your mugs. Long live our teacher ! Well, gentlemen ? What, did you poison my wine ? Cheers
What's [going] on ? The wine is no good ?
Another interesting thing:
I think blackface appears in the last cut.
Also has a very good animated remake: https://youtu.be/tRwuvQUSG5c
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.
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.
Having seen a lot of them, I can recommend this, being my favorite movie of all time:
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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)
It seems there are only old (before 1990) films there. The list of the countries is from that time: Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia.
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://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.
Kusturica is of course an old classic, but they have many more and better comedians. Selimir Silnik for example.
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!
"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.
Loved it when I was a child. But I will give you a few excellent Russian movies:
Mermaid (more a girls movie but underrated in my opinion)
I love watching movies in local language, will have to look into these.
Others being Aurora and Parasite.
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.
It's a story about a man obsessed with fishing.
Notable is the fact that this is a movie adaptation of an internet copypasta.
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.
Polish source https://technologia.dziennik.pl/internet/artykuly/504361,cda...
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.
I think these sites do more for Eastern European cinema than whatever else it is they do there.
You mean like itunes, hbo, netflix catalogues in countries outside US? It's just that there is no interest in seeing these movies.
There is also interest, otherwise sites like these wouldn't pop up.
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.
EDIT: After going through many movies, it seems that the majority is not available, at least not to me.
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.
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" .
There are some criticism on whether the events are 100% faithful to the reality , but indifferent to that, it is a hell of a piece of art!
: I am sorry, but I don't remember where I got that information. It is not that important, anyhow.
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.
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.
A Limousine the Colour of Midsummer's Eve
"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.
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.
 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
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?