russian christmas movies

10 Russian Christmas Movies to Binge Watch This Holiday Season

Christmas is just around the corner.

But you don’t have to settle for watching “A Christmas Story” for the umpteenth time, and you don’t have to sacrifice precious Russian study time, either.

With Russian movies, you can brush up on your Russian language skills and enjoy some quality seasonally appropriate entertainment.

I found the best Russian Christmas and wintertime films around so you don’t have to waste time hunting.

New and old, comedic and dramatic—at least one of these films will be your new favorite holiday movie marathon staple.

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1. “Снегурочка” (The Snow Maiden)

Year: 1952

Genre: Animation/Fantasy/Musical

“Снегурочка” may not entirely be a Christmas film in the traditional sense, but as a film based on winter Russian pagan mythology, it’s still perfect for this time of year.

Filmed in 1952, this Soviet-era animated movie is based on the Slavic pagan stage play of the same name as well as traditional Slavic mythology and folktales. Since this film is now public domain, you can easily watch it via YouTube or other streaming sites.

“Снегурочка” is available with English subtitles and the Russian spoken is slow and poetic, so beginner learners can benefit from this film.

Watch it on YouTube

2. “Морозко” (Father Frost)

Year: 1965

Genre: Family/Fantasy/Comedy

If you’re a sucker for beautiful visuals and enchanting costumes, “Морозко” is definitely worth watching!

Another award-winning Soviet-era film, Морозко is based on a famous Russian fairy tale. In the film, a young man and a young woman from very different walks of life fall in love amidst magic, evil and hardship.

“Морозко” is available with English subtitles and the Russian spoken is fairly slow and sparse, so all levels of learner can watch this film to some benefit.

Watch it on YouTube

3. “Дед Мороз. Битва магов” (Santa Claus. Battle of the Magi)

Year: 2016

Genre: Family/Action/Adventure

Russian cinema rarely makes it to the American side of the sea, but there are quite a few blockbusters from Russia that Western audiences would really appreciate.

One such film is “Дед Мороз. Битва магов,” a 2016 fantasy action film by Aleksandr Voytinskiy. In the film, a young girl witnesses a celestial battle between monsters and magicians and survives, only to be whisked away on an adventure involving a very real Father Frost and very real magic.

“Дед Мороз. Битва магов” is available from the iTunes store and is available with both Russian and English subtitles. More advanced learners can benefit from watching the film with Russian subtitles to improve their written-spoken word association.

Beginners can benefit from watching the film with English subtitles to improve their translation and listening skills.

Watch it on YouTube

4. “Вечера на хуторе близ Диканьки” (The Night Before Christmas)

Year: 1961

Genre: Comedy/Fantasy/Romance

Russian filmmakers do love the surreal and it’s certainly evident in this Russian Christmas classic. In this fantastical movie, several short stories from Russian lore are performed in a sort of anthology. It’s a wild ride from start to finish and is definitely not your typical Christmas film.

You can stream “Вечера на хуторе близ Диканьки” via YouTube. Dialogue is a bit sparser in favor of dramatic atmosphere, so any level of learner will be able to keep up with this film. We suggest this film for beginners.

Watch it on YouTube

5. “Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!” (The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!)

Year: 1976

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance

We had to throw in a romantic comedy and there’s certainly no Russian romcom quite like “Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!” Buckle your seatbelts, kids, cause this film is one heck of a long and hilarious ride.

In this extremely long and critically acclaimed Soviet-era offering (be ready for a 3-hour ride!) a group of friends, two of which pass out, get a little too tipsy. In their drunken state, the friends don’t remember which one of them is supposed to catch a plane to Leningrad and send the wrong person. What ensues is some serious hilarity and surprise romantic twists. “Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!” is one of Russia’s most beloved cult classics and is typically watched by Russian families on Christmas.

This film can be streamed through Amazon with English subtitles. This is a very dialogue-heavy movie, so some beginners may struggle to keep up with the pace.

Watch it on YouTube

6. “Рождественская мистерия” (The Christmas Miracle)

Year: 2000

Genre: Romance

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned romantic drama. “Рождественская мистерия” is probably the best Russian-language Christmas movie you’ll find for heartbreak, theatrics and a fairy tale vibe all in a (somewhat) modern setting.

In this 2000 film, a young couple reunites around Christmas after years to rekindle their love.

This film isn’t available with subtitles. However, the Russian spoken is sparse and easy to understand, albeit realistically spoken pretty quickly. Intermediate and advanced learners could definitely improve their listening and comprehension skills by watching this Russian Christmas classic.

Watch it on YouTube

Year: 2020

Genre: Adventure/Drama/Family

“Серебряные коньки” or “Silver Skates” is a visually stunning and emotionally charged film that takes you on an adventurous journey through 19th-century Saint Petersburg. Released in 2020, this movie combines historical drama with a touch of romance, making it a perfect choice for the festive season.

On the frozen rivers and canals of St. Petersburg, a petty thief on skates warms the heart of an aristocrat’s daughter as forces try to keep them apart.

For language learners, the dialogue in “Silver Skates” is clear and enunciated, making it accessible for all levels of Russian learners. The film is available with English subtitles, allowing beginners to follow the storyline effortlessly while picking up new vocabulary.

Watch it on Netflix

8. “Снежная королева” (The Snow Queen)

Year: 1957

Genre: Adventure/Animation/Family

“Снежная королева” or “The Snow Queen” is a delightful animated film that brings Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale to life with a Russian twist.

In this heartwarming story, a young girl named Gerda sets out on a quest to rescue her brother Kai, who has been kidnapped by the Snow Queen, a lonely and powerful fairy.

Watch it on YouTube

9. “Щелкунчик и волшебная флейта” (The Nutcracker)

Year: 1973

Genre: Fantasy/Animation/Family

“Щелкунчик и волшебная флейта” or “Nutcracker and the Magic Flute” is a charming animated film that brings the beloved Nutcracker story to the screen with a touch of Russian magic. Released in 1973, this movie offers a delightful blend of fantasy and music.

The film follows a servant girl as she finds an abandoned nutcracker after the party, who is really a prince under a spell. The short animated movie features Tchaikovsky’s iconic music, adding to its festive and immersive atmosphere.

For language learners, it’s a perfect opportunity to listen to classical Russian music and grasp the nuances of the language.

Watch it on YouTube

10. “Чёрная Молния” (Black Lightning)

Year: 2009

Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller

“Чёрная Молния” or “Black Lightning” makes a detour from traditional Christmas themes, offering a thrilling experience for fans of action and science fiction.

Dima, a college student, is gifted a car by his father. He later learns that an old Soviet car has extraordinary powers that transform him into a real-life superhero. It’s a captivating watch for those seeking something different during the holidays!

For language learners, “Black Lightning” presents an opportunity to explore the contemporary Russian language in a dynamic context. The film is available with both Russian and English subtitles, so you can challenge yourself with the original dialogue while having the support of English subtitles.

Watch it on Amazon Prime

How Can Watching Russian Christmas Movies Help Me Learn Russian?

  • Listening to Russian audio in films can help you learn formal and informal Russian listening skills. We have quite a variety of Russian Christmas movies on this list, so you’ll get a good dose of old, new, informal and formal spoken Russian to improve your listening fluency.
  • Russian films with subtitles are great for reading practice and for associating spoken words with their meanings. In fact some learning programs, like FluentU, use subtitled videos to teach Russian.

    Not only can you improve your Cyrillic reading abilities by watching Russian films with subtitles, but you can use English subtitles to further improve your Russian-English translation skills in real time.

  • Christmas movies are great for learning more about Christmas culture in Russia and how it differs from Christmas culture in the West. There are quite a few differences in how Russia and the United States celebrate Christmas, notably because of differences in religious majorities.

 

These Russian Christmas movies are certainly diverse in plot and era, but they all involve Christmas and wintertime in some way.

Even if a few of these films aren’t up your alley, we bet you’ll find at least a couple worth watching on Christmas Eve, cozied up next to the fire.

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