10 best banned Soviet films

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“Bad Anecdote”, dir. Alexander Alov and Vladimir Naumov, 1966

During the Thaw, the number of banned and “shelf” films dropped markedly. It was still difficult for directors to approve scripts and go through numerous bureaucratic instances with their projects, but the creative atmosphere has changed markedly since Stalin’s time. In the Brezhnev era, the practice of sending films to the regiment gained momentum again. And one of the first works banned from showing was “Bad Anecdote” by directors Alov and Naumov. The film adaptation of Dostoevsky’s story of the same name was saturated with caustic “Aesopian language” and performed in an emphatically expressionist style. Evgeny Evstigneev (in one of his most outstanding roles) plays a cunning official, state adviser Ivan Ilyich Pralinsky, who pretends to be very liberal and humane in order to inspire people’s confidence in state reforms and social transformation. However, Pralinsky’s mask has the opposite effect in people. The management of the Mosfilm studio considered the picture too gloomy and grotesque, that it would “tarnish the nation and its historical past.” It took Alov and Naumov a lot of work to launch their next film, the famous Bulgakov Run. And “Bad Anecdote” reached the audience only in 1987.

“The story of Asya Klyachina, who loved, but did not marry,” dir. Andrei Konchalovsky, 1966

In the 1960s, the theme of the Russian countryside returned to Soviet cinema, and cinematographers began to rethink the gigantic gap between rural and urban residents. Andrei Konchalovsky’s second film “The Story of Asya Klyachina” is made in a semi-documentary manner, most of its characters are real people, non-professional actors. In this little love story, full of worries and poetry of everyday life, the director opened the veil of secrecy on how a Soviet man lives in a remote village. Veterans, former prisoners of the camps, appeared on the screen, and the viewer hears their true speech, sees their emotions and feelings. It turned out that far from the ideology and embellished reality of social realism, a Soviet person may experience pain and longing, may be unhappy. This was the reason for the indignation of officials. “Asya Klyachina” provoked fierce controversy, she was demanded to be cut and re-shot, but the film crew, including the lead actress Iya Savvin, refused to change anything. So important were the fragments of real life captured on film. The film waited for the premiere only in 1987, and in 1994 Konchalovsky shot “Chicken Ripple”, a sequel that caused no less controversy in society, however, there was no one to censor the sequel.

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