learn-russian-with-movies

Learn Russian with Movies: 10 Super Russian Films for Your Study Kit

We all have those days.

You know, those days when you just want to curl up on the couch with a tub of popcorn, the remote and an improbable amount of candy.

But wait, you’re trying to learn Russian.

You’re supposed to actually be doing something about that, right?

The good news is, you can have your proverbial cake (or in this case, popcorn and candy, which are really better, anyway) and eat it, too.

That’s right: You can learn Russian by watching movies.

If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to learn a language while improving your listening skills, movies are a great option.

Even if you’re just looking for a practical way to build your vocabulary, watching a Russian film or two will be a big help.

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

Learn a foreign language with videos

Why Learn Russian with Movies?

  • Movies are long enough to really immerse you in the Russian languageSure, 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 with your Russian without leaving your couch.
  • 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? Why not 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? If this is sounding like your kind of language learning, you’ll be interested to know that a video-based study platform for Russian is available on FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of Russian-language content available on FluentU:

FluentU App Browse Screen

Didn’t catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? FluentU makes native Russian videos approachable through interactive captions. Tap or click on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more.

FluentU Videos with Interactive Captions

Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab. Easily review words and phrases with audio under Vocab.

Interactive Transcripts on FluentU

Don’t stop there, though. Use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

FluentU Has Quizzes for Every Video

And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses that vocab to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending videos and examples.

Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store.

Reel Fluency: 10 Entertaining Movies for Learning Russian

1. “Солярис”

English title: “Solaris”

learn-russian-with-movies

What it’s about: 

This 1972 film is based on the 1961 science fiction novel of the same name. It follows the emotional crises of several crew members aboard a space station. It’s widely considered a classic science fiction film.

What you’ll learn: 

This film is best for intermediate and advanced learners. While the dialogue is not fast, it uses some advanced words that may overwhelm beginning learners.

From watching this film, you can learn space-related vocabulary.

If you have trouble following the plot, you might also try watching the 2002 American film “Solaris.” While the two movies are not identical, they are based on the same novel. Watching the American film first could help familiarize you with the plot, which will make it easier to watch the Russian-language film.

If you’re interested, you can check out this movie on YouTube.

2. “Сталкер”

English title: “Stalker”

learn-russian-with-movies

What it’s about: 

This 1979 film is another 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.

What you’ll learn: 

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

You can check this one out on YouTube as well.

3. “Утомлённые солнцем”

English title: “Burnt by the Sun”

learn-russian-with-movies

What it’s about: 

“Burnt by the Sun” is an award-winning drama from 1994. It depicts the personal impact of the Great Purge (which occurred from 1936 to 1938) 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.

What you’ll learn: 

While the dialogue is not 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 will also help you learn a lot about this important part of Russian history.

There’s also a subtitle-free version available on YouTube.

4. “Брат”

English title: “Brother”

learn-russian-with-movies

What it’s about: 

This 1997 film follows a young man who enters a life of crime.

What you’ll learn: 

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.

You can start watching it on YouTube.

5. “Каменный цветок”

English title: “The Stone Flower”

What it’s about: This 1946 film is based on a story by Pavel Bazhov, which is based on a folktale. It’s a fantasy with a relatively light plot that involves a stone carver being seduced away from his lover, who then must ward off advances herself.

What you’ll learn: 

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 unclear words.

From “The Stone Flower,” you can learn general vocabulary as well as some terminology related to stone carving (if you’re into that sort of thing).

This film has become rare, so you’ll probably have to stick to the YouTube link above if you want to watch it.

6. “Баллада о солдате”

English title: “Ballad of a Soldier”

learn-russian-with-movies

What it’s about: 

This 1959 drama 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.

What you’ll learn: 

The dialogue is not terribly fast and the version of the film on the page linked above is subtitled, 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.

You can take a look at this movie on YouTube.

7. “Стиляги”

English title: “Hipsters”

learn-russian-with-movies

What it’s about: 

This fun 2008 musical-comedy 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.

What you’ll learn: 

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.

You can sample “Hipsters” on YouTube.

8. “Сталинград”

English title: “Stalingrad”

What it’s about: 

“Stalingrad” is a popular 2013 epic action war film that depicts the 1942 Battle of Stalingrad.

What you’ll learn: 

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.

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

9. “Ирония судьбы. Продолжение”

English title: “The Irony of Fate 2”

What it’s about: 

This 2007 romantic comedy is a sequel to a 1975 movie. 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.

What you’ll learn: 

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.

10. “Левиафан”

English title: “Leviathan”

learn-russian-with-movies

What it’s about: 

In this 2014 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.

What you’ll learn: 

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.

 

With so many great options to take advantage of, you better get started!

Pop some popcorn, sit back, relax and learn Russian.

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