Two Classic Russian Films & Russian Cursive

In this post I talk about two classic Russian films I recently watched, as well as my process in learning Russian cursive handwriting.

I watched both films this past weekend on my birthday.

Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures (1965)

Операция «Ы» и другие приключения Шурика

I tend not to enjoy slapstick comedies, but I thoroughly enjoyed Operation Y.

It consists of three separate short films. The first Напарник (Partner) is about a construction worker and a convict who has been sentenced to community service and are partnered together.

The second, Наваждение (Strange Impression), is a comedy-romance short film about two students studying for the same exam.

The third, Операция «Ы» (Operation “Y”) is about an attempted staged robbery gone awry.

These types of films often include satire about life in the Soviet Union and include subtle references, many of which are lost on me, but I sometimes learn about them when reading about the films.

Leonid Gaidai (Леони́д Гайда́й) is the director and has created some of the most-loved comedies among Russians such as The Diamond Arm (1969). My wife and I have also watched it and it’s her favorite. Other films by Gaidai that we’ve watched are Gentlemen of Fortune (1971), Incredible Adventures of Italians in Russia (1974), The Twelve Chairs (1971).

Spring on Zarechnaya Street

Весна на Заречной улице

Spring on Zarechnaya Street is a simple, down to earth, love story between a steel factory worker and a literature teacher.

Of all the Russian cinema that I have watched, from Andrei Tarkovsky’s (Андрей Тарковский) sci-fi films or historical biopics, to comedies or dramas and war films by directors like Mikhail Kalatozov (Михаил Калатозов), these types of melodramas are my favorites. They are artistic, soulful, and often have memorably catchy songs.

Here is a song from Spring on Zarechnaya Street performed by a multiracial band in 1963 Soviet Russia.

The lead actor Nikolai Rybnikov (Никола́й Ры́бников) is beloved and despite fame remained humble. He was awarded the People’s Artist of the RSFSR in 1981 and was loved for his character and his acting.

Interestingly, I noticed that the film was set in an industrial town and the composer Boris Mokrousov (Бори́с Мокроу́сов) was born in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, which was an important industrial town at the time.

He also wrote an opera – Чапай (1938). Take a look at my previous post for an extensive list of Russian operas which you can view here.

The lead actress Nina Ivanova (Нина Иванова) and the cinematographer of the movie (Radomir Vasilevsky) had such a chemistry that shortly after filming, they married.

Spring on Zarechnaya Street was directed by Marlen Khutsiev (Марле́н Хуци́ев) and Feliks Mironer (Феликс Миронер). We’ve watched July Rain (1966) before, so this was our second film from these directors.

There is a scene in the movie where the character of Tatyana Levchenko (Nina Ivanova) is listening to a piano concerto, she is listening to The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 by Sergei Rachmaninoff (Сергей Рахманинов).

Russian Cursive

My Russian neighbors gave me a Russian birthday card with the writing in cursive font. I was delighted with this!

For the past 3 weeks I have been practicing Russian cursive daily. I find it so beautiful and elegant but still hard to read quickly enough to read about loud.

Here is a picture of the card, it says “С Днем Рождения!” (Happy Birthday!).

Every day when I do my language learning, toward the tail end of the session I find a short Russian poem and then write it out to get practice and at the same time learn more about the culture through poetry.

My approach is to first write out the alphabet in cursive while I reference the letters from a chart. Then I find a short poem in Russian print and write it out in cursive without referring to the letters or the chart, trying to go from memory. Then after writing it out, I look to see where I went wrong.

At the moment I am managing to write the poem out with only one or two mistakes.

Here are some examples of my cursive:

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