Lawrence O'Toole
November 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

Movies by Soviet filmmakers

Even before the recent dawn of glasnost, Soviet filmmakers were turning out handsome, honest, occasionally provocative movies. A few of them have won praise and audiences abroad. Among the best now in the West:

Little Vera (Water Bearer, 1988)
In director Vasily Pichul’s sexually frank tale, a young woman seeks to escape the drudgery of her Muscovite existence via promiscuity and vodka. Vera (Natalya Negoda, left) doesn’t have much fun, but she looks terrific. B-

Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (RCA/Columbia, 1980)
The Soviet equivalent of a ’50s ”woman’s picture,” director Vladimir Menshov’s feature follows three female friends who leave their rural homes to marry in Moscow. Its humanism made it a shoo-in for the 1980 Best Foreign Film Oscar. B

War and Piece (Kultur, 1968)
Sergei Bondarchuk was entrusted with the largest film project in Soviet history up to that time, a eight-hour adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel. The 373-minute English-dubbed version released here is a poor substitute for the real thing, but it’s still a treat. A-

My Name Is Ivan (Facets Multimedia, 1962)
Andrei Tarkovsky’s story of an orphan who becomes a Soviet spy in World War II is beautiful, poetic, and in the end, devastatingly moving. A+

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