Sputnik, Sergey Bodrov / CTB Film Company, 2007
They are included in the top 250 of the best historical films of all time, chosen by users from the world’s most popular and authoritative source for film, television and celebrity content.
1. Andrei Rublev (1966)
This historical drama, directed by AndrÃ© Tarkovski, depicts in eight short episodes life in 15th century Russia, torn apart by Mongol raids and quarrels between princes. The central figure of the film is Andrei Rublev, one of the greatest Russian icon painters. As his true biography remains almost unknown, his character has been completely imagined.
The film was shot among real architectural monuments of 14-15 centuries in ancient Russian cities, such as Novgorod, Pskov and Izborsk. Some scenes were also shot on the territory of the Andronikov Monastery in Moscow, where Rublev spent his last days.
The idea for the film came from actor Vasily Livanov (who went on to create one of the best versions of Sherlock Holmes in Soviet cinema, according to many moviegoers). Livanov wanted to play the role of Rublev himself, but Tarkovsky refused. This led to a bitter fight between the director and the offended actor in one of the Moscow restaurants.
After Passion according to Andrei (that was the film’s original name) was over, Soviet censorship immediately banned it, calling it “anti-people” and “unpatriotic,” describing the Russian people as a horde of barbarians. The film’s copyright was bought out by a French businessman of Russian origin and, despite Soviet protests, was screened at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, where it was warmly received. In the Soviet Union the film – with the name changed Andrei Rublev – got a limited release in 1971 and wasn’t released nationwide until 1987.
2. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Considered one of the greatest films in the history of cinema, Battleship Potemkin by Sergey Eisenstein presents the story of the 1905 mutiny of the sailors of the famous battleship against their officers. Originally made as a silent film, it was dubbed in 1930, then remastered and dubbed in 1950.
Battleship Potemkin is filmed entirely in black and white. However, there is also an episode in color. Director Sergey Eisenstein personally painted the flag, hoisted by revolutionary sailors, red with a brush.
The film was praised even by the ideological enemies of the USSR. Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels once said about Battleship Potemkin: “A wonderful film without equal in the cinema … anyone who had no solid political beliefs could become a Bolshevik after seeing the film.”
Battleship Potemkin has since become a cult film and has been cited many times in world cinema. The notorious massacre on the âOdessa Stepsâ with a baby in a falling carriage is particularly famous. We can see a tribute to this scene in several films, including that of Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather and that of Brian De Palma The Untouchables. Even the scene in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, in which clone troopers walk on the Jedi Temple, is a direct lift from Eisenstein’s masterpiece.
3. Mongolian (2007)
Sergey Bodrov / CTB Film Company, 2007
The film produced jointly by Russia, Kazakhstan and Germany Mongolian tells the story of the early years of TemÃ¼jin’s life, before he became Genghis Khan and his grandiose conquests began. In 2007, the film was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category as a submission from Kazakhstan, the first time in the history of Kazakhstan.
The film was shot in Kazakhstan and the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia. Some places were so remote and wild that it was necessary to build roads to bring in production equipment.
Ahead of the project’s launch, director Sergey Bodrov visited the Mongolian shaman leader in Ulaanbaatar to seek permission to shoot a film about Genghis Khan. The surprised shaman said it was the first time in his life that someone had come to him with such a request.
Dozens of nationalities were involved in the filming process: Chinese, Russians, Germans, Kazakhs, Ukrainians, Mongols, Japanese etc. As a result, 30 translators were permanently on the film set.
Initially, Bodrov planned to make a trilogy with the second installment titled The great khan. However, this project was frozen for more than ten years and it was not until 2019 that plans to relaunch it were announced.
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