Top 15 Soviet science fiction movies

by indiescifi451 | created - 16 Sep 2017 | updated - 17 Sep 2017 | Public

Did you know that rebelling replicants in space existed before Blade Runner & Alien?

Post-apocalypse. Mutants. Nuclear war. Space travel. Absurdism. A.I. Dystopia. Robots. Androids. Mutants. Futurism. Cybernetics. Time travel. Aliens. Utopia. Supernatural.

You can have it all. †1924-1988 selection.

As Vladimir Lenin said, “that of all the arts the most important for us is the cinema.”

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1. Stalker (1979)

Not Rated | 162 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Alisa Freyndlikh, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko

Votes: 121,056 | Gross: $0.23M

A cerebral timeless masterpiece by Andrei Tarkovsky, probably the most renowned and influential Soviet/Russian director. Loosely based on a story by important Soviet science fiction writers Strugatsky brothers (and seen by many as a prophecy for several upcoming catastrophes including Chernobyl), “Stalker” could be interpreted as a philosophical tale about destiny and choices. But there’s much more that that. It’s simply one of the most important cinema achievements ever, let alone science fiction.

The story follows three men as they penetrate deeper into into a mysterious area called “The Zone”, each of them for a different purpose. A thinking sci-fi geek’s must-see. This movie is like a Universe, there are always new layers to discover.

2. Zerograd (1988)

103 min | Comedy, Drama, Mystery

An engineer in charge of the production line of a factory in Moscow is sent to a small town to try to specify the distributor the new dimensions of a mechanic part they need. But in this ... See full summary »

Director: Karen Shakhnazarov | Stars: Leonid Filatov, Oleg Basilashvili, Vladimir Menshov, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan

Votes: 1,900

Theatre of the absurd, a mysterious tragicomedy, a dark metaphor. The late 80-s, without doubt, were the most prolific period for the underground culture in Soviet Union, especially rock music but also cinema. ”City Zero” is the finest dark offspring of that epoch. The film is normally classified as sci-fi/mystery – but if you analyze every single scene separately, there’s nothing completely impossible. It’s the sum of all parts that is greater than the whole…

The famous headcake scene actually happened once in Russia. But looking at the whole story makes you feel like slowly drowning in the swamp… It’s kind of ”Donnie Darko” goes on ”Mulholland Drive” in ”The Twilight Zone” atmosphere.

3. Dead Man's Letters (1986)

87 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

In the aftermath of nuclear holocaust, a group of intellectuals crave to find hope in the pale and colorless new world. Among them, a history teacher tries to contact via letters his missing son.

Director: Konstantin Lopushanskiy | Stars: Rolan Bykov, Iosif Ryklin, Viktor Mikhaylov, Aleksandr Sabinin

Votes: 2,880

Directed by K. Lopushansky, surely the most faithful of all Tarkovsky’s followers (he worked as assistant on ”Stalker” set), this film is a heavy and realistic portrayal of the end of the world. Endless piles of rusty metal, interminable yellow twilight, dirty radioactive puddles of mixed water and blood.

And dead bodies. Dead bodies everywhere. Men, children, women. Everywhere. There is no hope here. It’s finished. There is no ”if”. The doomsday clock has moved. We are just witnessing the final decay of small group of survivors that will last several months, probably. There is not even a single hint about their survival. It’s a death rattle. Just a matter of time.

4. Solaris (1972)

PG | 167 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet in order to discover what has caused the crew to go insane.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Jüri Järvet, Vladislav Dvorzhetskiy

Votes: 83,265

Another sublime masterpiece by A. Tarkovsky, also providing a great insight into a human soul, but more with space travel and love relationship flavour. Seen by many as a rival of ”2001” by S. Kubrick, the film has an incredible sensibility, stunning photography and chilling story which allows it to still be on of the most poetic films ever made. And for a movie dedicated to space… it has a gorgeously shot Earth’s nature. The opening scene of the underwater grass is already a masterpiece. Hm, did I mention the word ”masterpiece” too many times? You bet I did.

5. Parade of the Planets (1984)

97 min | Drama, Fantasy

In a surreal puzzler, this story of a fantasy lived by a disparate group of men captures the visual imagination with its images and leaves a large question mark in the meantime. A rare ... See full summary »

Director: Vadim Abdrashitov | Stars: Oleg Borisov, Sergey Shakurov, Sergey Nikonenko, Aleksandr Pashutin

Votes: 399

Probably the least sci-fi movie in this list, woven of some impalpable light and invisible matter. The film, a continuous surreal metaphor shot in the everyday life style, may seem a little hard to interpret without knowing the context (the upcoming Perestroika), but it’s impossible not to appreciate the incredible sense of weightlessness and doom it manages to combine at the same time. Youth, aging and death pass by in front of the men we are observing, and just for a moment they’re here, together, feeling different.

6. Kin-dza-dza! (1986)

PG-13 | 135 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

Two Russians push the wrong button on a strange device and end up on the telepathic planet Pluke with its strange societal norms.

Director: Georgiy Daneliya | Stars: Stanislav Lyubshin, Evgeniy Leonov, Yuriy Yakovlev, Levan Gabriadze

Votes: 11,761

Looking for some truly unorthodox and brilliant dark sci-fi satire? Adore ”A Boy and His Dog” and other oddball dystopias as much as I do? Probably you wouldn’t expect this from a Soviet science fiction, but it is actually a black absurdist comedy set on a faraway planet. It’s a hilarious, weird and sad parody on both capitalist and communist societies. In Soviet Union “Kin-dza-dza!” quickly gained a cult status, which is remarkable for such a weird parody.

7. Pilot Pirx's Inquest (1979)

95 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

The movie is about "finite nonlinears," robots that closely resemble human beings but are even more perfect than humans. They are intended to eventually replace human beings in space ... See full summary »

Director: Marek Piestrak | Stars: Sergei Desnitsky, Boleslaw Abart, Vladimir Ivashov, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy

Votes: 761

Rebelling replicants in space existed before 'Alien' and 'Blade Runner'.

“Inquest of Pilot Pirx” is one of those good old sci-fi movies I miss sometimes so desperately. Unhurried, detailed, with smart plot and good acting, the film takes its time to prepare you for everything and develops slowly, but somewhere in the middle you suddenly realize that it’s grasping you right by the throat. ”Pirx” is a solid psychological sci-fi thriller about human-like androids and space travel, that with years gained somewhat of a cult following, especially in Poland and ex-USSR countries. The film doesn’t quiet reach the height of Ridley Scott, obviously, but nevertheless it’s a very sturdy 70-s science fiction. One of the role was played by A. Kaidanovsky, who one year later became the stalker.

8. Visitor of a Museum (1989)

136 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

In a post-apocalyptic world, in which a large part of the population consists of demented and deformed mutants being kept in reservations, a man embarks upon visiting the ruins of a museum ... See full summary »

Director: Konstantin Lopushanskiy | Stars: Viktor Mikhaylov, Vera Mayorova, Vadim Lobanov, Irina Rakshina

Votes: 1,000

By K. Lopushansky, kind of a spiritual sequel to ”Dead Man’s Letters” which is n. 3 in this Top 10.

9. Mirror for a Hero (1987)

139 min | Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Two not quite similar men, our contemporaries, psychologist-linguist Sergey Pshenichny and former mining engineer Andrew Nemchinov, are walking in the street in their native miners town and... See full summary »

Director: Vladimir Khotinenko | Stars: Sergey Koltakov, Ivan Bortnik, Boris Galkin, Feliks Stepun

Votes: 591

A Soviet version of ”Groundhog Day”. Shot before ”Groundhog Day”. A good movie actually, with a classic story of redemption and the generation gap’s overcoming.

10. Planeta bur (1962)

78 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

Cosmonauts land on the planet Venus. However, they find themselves in danger from the voracious monsters they find on it.

Director: Pavel Klushantsev | Stars: Vladimir Yemelyanov, Georgi Zhzhyonov, Gennadi Vernov, Yuriy Sarantsev

Votes: 1,202

This naive and educational film allows you to see how the world and space travel were seen in the middle of the XX century, how much romance surrounded it. Compared to the most space sci-fi released in the USA at that time, the film is remarkable (and in fact it was reedited and reissued as an American movie with zero credit to its creators).

Here you will see some archetypical sci-fi scenes and space suits that inspired ”Prometheus” (some claim so – I didn’t!). And never forget about John the Robot, who died in burning lava after going rogue The world government will indeed rule according to the laws of mathematics. For all lovers of silly 50-s and 60-s sci-fi.

11. Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924)

Not Rated | 111 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

A mysterious radio message is beamed around the world, and among the engineers who receive it are Los, the hero, and his colleague Spiridonov. Los is an individualist dreamer. Aelita is the... See full summary »

Director: Yakov Protazanov | Stars: Yuliya Solntseva, Igor Ilyinsky, Nikolai Tsereteli, Nikolay Batalov

Votes: 2,388

One of the oldest space sci-fi movies ever (I believe it is the 4th or 5th feature film about space travel). First Soviet blockbuster (the film was hugely popular). Interesting, in first place, due to its historical and cultural importance, but ”Aelita” also features great photography and designs.

12. To the Stars by Hard Ways (1981)

148 min | Sci-Fi

A female creature created in space tries to live on earth and has special (and sometimes dangerous) powers.

Directors: Richard Viktorov, Nikolay Viktorov | Stars: Yelena Metyolkina, Nadezhda Sementsova, Vadim Ledogorov, Uldis Lieldidzs

Votes: 1,205

Also known as “Through the Thorns to the Stars” or “Humanoid Woman. I had doubts whether include this movie in the list, but it felt different from other teenager sci-fi movies like ”Amphibian Man” or ”Moscow-Cassiopeia” (or many others) that were hugely popular in USSR and could be considered Soviet analogues to adventure movies of Steven Spielberg. ”Per Aspera Ad Astra” was weirder though… it features some very dark and scary scenes.

13. Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (1979)

80 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi

Police gets a call-out to a lonely hotel in the Alps. When an officer gets to the hotel everything seems to be alright. Suddenly an avalanche cuts them out from the rest of the world and strange things are going to happen.

Director: Grigori Kromanov | Stars: Uldis Pucitis, Jüri Järvet, Lembit Peterson, Mikk Mikiver

Votes: 1,225

A curious Estonian noir detective story about aliens. Based on a story by Strugatsky brothers. Surreal and weird detective movie.

14. Heart of a Dog (1988 TV Movie)

PG | 136 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

In the wake of the Russian revolution, Professor Preobrazhensky rescues a starving dog from the gutter, and attempts to transform him into a man. Based on Mikhail Bulgakov's novel of the same name.

Director: Vladimir Bortko | Stars: Evgeniy Evstigneev, Vladimir Tolokonnikov, Boris Plotnikov, Roman Kartsev

Votes: 7,145

15. Cosmic Journey (1936)

70 min | Sci-Fi

In 1946, the Soviet space program is undergoing turmoil. Professor Sedikh, who is planning to lead the first manned exploration to the moon, is denounced by his rival Professor Karin as ... See full summary »

Director: Vasily Zhuravlyov | Stars: Sergey Komarov, Ksenia Moskalenko, Vassili Gaponenko, Nikolay Feoktistov

Votes: 382

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