Москва слезам не верит

Москва слезам не верит (Moskva slezam ne verit), in english “Moscow doesn’t believe in tears”, is one of the most beloved and popular movies among Russians. This soviet film doesn’t really focus that much on soviet ideology or oppressive communist regime, but it’s definitely part of Russian pop culture. Москва слезам не верит, directed by Владимир  Меньшо́в (Vladimir Menshov) and released in 1980, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 30th Berlin International Film Festival.  This year the movie celebrates its 35th anniversary and it’s  still one of Russians’ favorites.

The story is about three provincial girls who come to Moscow in late 1950s and live together in a common room in a общежитие (obshezhitie), a dormitory. They are all different and so are the goals they pursue in their life.

Katerina (Катерина) works hard at a factory, while during her free time she studies to enter the university. Lyudmila (Людмила) is looking straightforward for a good-looking and wealthy man and sees the Moscow experience as “big lottery”. Antonina (Антонина) has more modest goals: she works as a painter and quickly ends up marring a fellow worker. Things chance when Katerina’s cousin asks her to housesit his apartment and Lyudmila suggests they could organize a dinner and invite two single man pretending to be a professor’s daughters. Katerina is really attracted by one of the two boys, the cameramen Rudolf. They have an affairs and then she gets pregnant. Later Rudolf finds out that Katerina doesn’t come from his same social class and dumps her, leaving her alone with the baby. The second part of the movie focuses more on Katerina’s life and how she manages to get the best out of that hard situation.

The movie broke all Russian box office records in 1980: 90 million people went to watch Москва слезам не верит, despite the fact that it was shown on TV soon after the general release.

It was a great success because of its heroine who achieves happiness in life and work following her own path. At the beginning of the movie Katerina is a quiet and shy girl, but then she turns into a strong, resolute and self-assured woman. Ве́ра  Але́нтова (Vera Alentova),the resolute Katerina, and Алексе́й Бата́лов (Alexey Batalov), the ironic and funny Gosha, are the main actors, and successfully play the role of common people that have to deal with daily life problems in Soviet society. Alcohol and single motherhood are some of them; especially, Katya’s condition of single mother was perceived as scandal and such a controversial topic that the Soviet film industry didn’t want to promote Menshov’s work .

Besides soviet backgrounds and the romance I think that what really still appeals to the audience is the melancholy; the Russian melancholy that comes out from the atmosphere created in the movie and from the main theme song, the famous “Александра” (Aleksandra), after Katerina’s daughter name.

 Watch Москва слезам не верит with English subtitles.

Written by: Jessica Carrettiero

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

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