Learn Russian with Movies: 10 Great Russian Films to Add to Your Watchlist

If you’re learning Russian and looking for a cheap and easy way to improve your language skills, movies are a great option.

They can help you build your vocabulary, get exposed to authentic Russian conversations and hear accents and intonation from native speakers. 

Plus, it has to be one of the most fun methods of learning a language at home.

Read on to get 15 great films you can queue up today and see why you should learn Russian with movies. 


1. “Баллада о солдате” (“Ballad of a Soldier”)

Year: 1959

Genre: War drama/Romance

This film focuses on the role of love during war. Set in WWII, it follows a Red Army soldier as he goes home and falls in love along the way.

The dialogue isn’t terribly fast and the film is available on YouTube with English subtitles, so it’s a good option for any level of language learner.

Much of the vocabulary is pretty general, but there are also some military terms scattered about that you can learn.

Where to Watch: YouTube | The Criterion Channel

2. “Сталкер” (“Stalker”)

Year: 1979

Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi

This is a Soviet classic by director Andrei Tarkovsky. Though it has some science fiction elements, it’s primarily a drama about an expedition to a mysterious area known as the “Zone,” said to fulfill desires. A lot of fighting occurs along the way.

It’s appropriate for any level of language learner to learn and practice general vocabulary. There’s not a lot of dialogue, so you’ll have plenty of time to practice any words you don’t already know.

Where to Watch: Prime Video | Max | Apple TV | Google Play | YouTubeVudu

3. “Солярис” (“Solaris”)

Year: 1972

Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi

This film is based on the 1961 sci-fi novel of the same name. It follows the emotional crises of several crew members aboard a space station. It’s widely considered a classic sci-fi film.

It’s best for intermediate and advanced learners and is great for learning space-related vocabulary. While the dialogue isn’t fast, it uses some advanced words that may overwhelm beginning learners. 

If you have trouble following the plot, you might also try watching the 2002 American film “Solaris.” While the two movies aren’t identical, they’re based on the same novel, so it could help familiarize you with the plot and then follow along in Russian. 

Where to Watch: Prime Video | Max | Apple TV | Google Play | YouTube | Vudu

4. “Брат” (“Brother”)

Year: 1997

Genre: Action/Crime drama

Freshly released from the military, Danila hopes to have a fresh start in St. Petersburg. There, he gets caught up in the criminal world that his older brother is involved in. A sequel (“Брат 2″/”Brother 2”) was released in 2000.  

Due to the mature nature of the film, it’s best for adult learners. Since it leans heavily on vocabulary that most beginning students don’t use (or need), it’s also probably best for more advanced learners.

However, anyone who chooses to watch this movie will learn slang and all sorts of vocabulary related to crime and the military.

Where to Watch: Prime Video

5. “Утомлённые солнцем” (“Burnt by the Sun”)

Year: 1994

Genre: War drama

“Burnt by the Sun” is an award-winning film that depicts the personal impact of the Great Purge of the late 1930s in which many government officials and Communist Party members were killed as “saboteurs.” In the movie, an Army commander and his family are vacationing in the country when his wife’s lost love arrives, which leads to trouble for the commander.

While the dialogue isn’t easy, this movie is worth the effort for any language learner who invests in the subtitled version.

This film is a good option for learning political and military vocabulary, but it’ll also help you learn a lot about this important part of Russian history.

Where to Watch: Prime Video | Apple TV | Google Play | YouTube | Vudu

6. “Левиафан” (“Leviathan”)

Year: 2014

Genre: Crime drama

In this film, a man from a coastal town battles a corrupt mayor to try to prevent his house from being demolished. Though the plot may seem simple enough, it actually includes some criticism of contemporary Russia.

While the subtitles will make it easy for any level of language learner to follow, this film is most appropriate for learners who already have some knowledge of contemporary Russia.

There’s plenty of general vocabulary in “Leviathan,” but you can also pick up some legal terms.

Where to Watch: Prime Video | Apple TV | Google Play | YouTube | Vudu

7. “Елена” (“Elena”)

Year: 2011

Genre: Drama

In this thought-provoking drama directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Elena is a middle-aged woman who marries a wealthy businessman. Her marriage to Vladimir creates tension with her son from a previous marriage, and when Vladimir falls seriously ill, complex moral choices come to the forefront.

“Elena” is most suitable for intermediate to advanced learners due to its intricate dialogue and use of colloquial language.

By watching this film, you’ll get an interesting look at the nuances of Russian society, family relationships and the moral dilemmas faced by its characters.

Where to Watch: Apple TV | Kanopy

8. “Русский ковчег” (“Russian Ark”)

Year: 2002

Genre: Experimental historical drama

“Russian Ark” is a remarkable film known for its breathtaking single-take cinematography. It takes viewers on a visually stunning journey through the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, spanning three centuries of Russian history.

As the camera glides through the museum’s grand halls, you’ll witness historic events, iconic artworks and interactions with various characters, offering a unique perspective on Russia’s cultural heritage.

The film showcases formal and historical speech. It’s most suitable for advanced learners who can appreciate its cultural and linguistic richness, although learners at lower levels can still benefit from its visual and historical aspects with subtitles or support.

Where to Watch: YouTube | Kanopy | Kino Now

9. “Стиляги” (“Hipsters”)

Year: 2008

Genre: Drama/Musical/Romance

This fun musical will keep your toes tapping to the entertaining (and educational) music. Set in the 1950s, it follows members of the hipster subculture who love American music and are eager to express themselves despite Soviet norms.

This is a good movie for any level of language learner. While beginning students might not catch all the words, the music will get stuck in your head, which will help you remember vocabulary.

From watching, you can pick up vocabulary related to the Soviet era as well as music and culture terms.

Where to Watch: Kanopy

10. “Каменный цветок” (“The Stone Flower”)

Year: 1946

Genre: Adventure/Drama

This film is based on a folk tale that was collected and reworked by Pavel Bazhov and published in 1938. It offers a relatively light plot that involves a talented stone carver named Danila who embarks on a mystical journey to master his craft.

While there are subtitles to help you along, it’s an older film, so this would probably be best for intermediate and advanced learners who are in a better position to contend with more complex words.

From “The Stone Flower,” you can pick up some general vocabulary while learning about Russian folklore, traditions and rich storytelling. It’s also a great way to explore classic Soviet cinema and understand the cultural significance of such films in Russian history. 

Where to Watch: Youtube

11. “Спутник” (“Sputnik”)

Year: 2020

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Horror

Set during the Cold War, “Sputnik” tells the story of a Soviet cosmonaut who returns to Earth with a parasitic extraterrestrial organism inside him. As the government investigates, a psychologist is brought in to assess the situation.

This film is suitable for intermediate to advanced Russian learners. It’s an entertaining way to get exposed to authentic Russian conversation, especially for sci-fi fans. 

It exposes viewers to scientific and military terminology and lots of (very dramatic) dialogue.

Where to Watch: Prime Video | Hulu | Apple TV | Google Play | YouTube | Vudu

12. “Довлатов” (“Dovlatov”)

Year: 2018

Genre: Biographical drama

“Dovlatov” portrays the life of Sergei Dovlatov, a Soviet dissident writer, during the 1970s Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). The film immerses viewers in the atmosphere of artistic repression and censorship under the Soviet regime.

Russian learners will benefit from its historical and cultural context, which includes literary discussions and nuanced dialogues, offering insights into the language of intellectuals of that era.

It’s best suited for advanced learners who can grasp complex themes and language nuances. For intermediate learners, subtitles may be helpful to fully appreciate the film’s rich storytelling and language.

Where to Watch: Netflix

13. “Майор Гром: Чумной Доктор” (“Major Grom: Plague Doctor”)

Year: 2021

Genre: Action/Crime

This film is based on the popular Russian comic book series. It follows Major Grom, a no-nonsense police officer in St. Petersburg, as he battles a mysterious vigilante known as the Plague Doctor.

The film offers  a contemporary glimpse into urban Russian life, including colloquial language and modern slang. It presents an opportunity to hone conversational Russian and gain exposure to Russian pop culture.

A proficiency level of intermediate to advanced is recommended for full comprehension without subtitles.

Where to Watch: Netflix

14. “Сталинград” (“Stalingrad”)

Year: 2013

Genre: Action/War drama

“Stalingrad” is a popular 2013 epic action war film that depicts the 1942 Battle of Stalingrad. The film combines intense action sequences with human drama, showcasing the resilience and sacrifices of soldiers and civilians during this historic battle. 

With plenty of action to entertain all viewers in this movie, any level of language learner should be able to pick up enough words to follow the story.

You’ll pick up plenty of vocabulary related to war and the military, and you’ll also learn about a pivotal battle from WWII.

Where to Watch: Prime Video | Apple TVVudu | Microsoft

15. “Ирония судьбы. Продолжение” (“The Irony of Fate 2”)

Year: 2007

Genre: Romantic comedy

This is a sequel to the 1975 movie “Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!” (“The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!”). It depicts the romantic misadventures of the children of the characters from the original film. Set during the Christmas season, it’s a fun, festive option.

It might be a little difficult to track down an English-subtitled version of this movie, so it might be best for intermediate and advanced Russian learners.

Those who watch will learn some seasonal vocabulary as well as more general terms. You may need to use a VPN to watch the version linked below, depending on your location. 

Where to Watch: Prime Video 

Why Learn Russian with Movies?

There are many reasons why you should watch Russian movies to learn the language. Here are just a few: 

  • Movies provide you with thematic vocabulary based on genre or topic. Movie genres and plots are diverse, and so is the vocabulary that they use. Looking to learn slang? Pick a current movie with a contemporary setting. Want to learn historical terms? Try a period piece. 
  • Movies hold your attention by entertaining you. It’s easier to get in two hours of Russian practice when it masquerades as entertainment. Rather than trying to maintain your focus as you stare, glassy-eyed, at a textbook, why not let a movie entertain and educate you?
  • Movies immerse you in the Russian language. Sure, TV can be great for learning if you have time constraints, but the added length of movies provides more of a chance for you to really get into them. Since immersion is really important in learning a language naturally, this is a great way to get some serious time studying Russian without leaving your couch.

    If you have trouble keeping up with a movie and want to watch shorter clips, the FluentU program has authentic Russian videos with interactive captions. You can use these to prepare yourself for watching full-length movies.


If you need more options, check out these 25 great Russian movies on Amazon’s Prime Video, these Russian movies and TV shows on Netflix or these sites for finding Russian movies with Russian subtitles. 

With so many great options to take advantage of, you won’t run out any time soon.

Pop some popcorn, sit back, relax and watch your Russian grow! 

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