Best Russian Sci-Fi Films (And Why You Should Watch Them)

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Russia has long been fascinated with the future and other worlds, leading them to create many sci-fi films, with many of their best coming from the ’60s to the late 1990s.

Many of these movies don’t get much attention outside of Russia, but these are some underrated gems you need to watch if you are a sci-fi fan. 

So, without further ado, let’s look at the best Russian sci-fi movies!

Dead Man’s Letters (1986)

First up on the list is Dead Man’s Letters, which came out in 1986 and was directed by Konstantin Lopushansky.

For his first film ever, he did a fantastic job with this film, creating an emotionally charged story that leaves you feeling a certain level of emptiness after watching it.

Why You Should Watch It

If you are looking for a movie that will make you cry by a director who knows how to tell such a heavy story properly, then you will want to check out Dead Man’s Letters.

You should also give it a watch because, in a world where fear of a nuclear war seems closer than ever, movies like this can help one process anxiety and fear in a controlled environment. 

Planet of Storms (1962)

An oldie but a goldie, Planet of Storms was released in 1962.

Directed by Pavel Klushantsev and starring Gennadi Vernov and Kyunna Ignatova, this is one of the best Russian films ever to be created in the sci-fi genre.

It has long been cited as one of the most influential films for film students looking to create sci-fi films.

Even George Lucas, who created arguably one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time, wanted to meet Klushantsev when he went to Russia and stated that he considered Klushantsev the godfather of Star Wars.

When it comes to special effects in his movies, Klushantsev was ahead of his time, as Planet of the Storms utilizes them to great effect, creating a movie that sucks you into it with its amazing visual effects.

Why You Should Watch It

As a sci-fi movie, this film hits every one of the necessary tropes for a good science-fiction story.

If you want to watch one of the first films to inspire the modern-day sci-fi genre, you should watch it from a director who knows what he is doing.

This is easily one of the best Russian movies that take place in outer space, and you’re missing out if you don’t give it a watch.

Amphibian Man (1962)

Do you ever feel like The Little Mermaid seems too normal of a film or too familiar?

Do you wish you could watch something that looks like a cursed film but is a solid sci-fi film?

If you answered yes, let me introduce you to the 1962 Russian film Amphibian Man.

Why You Should Watch It

So you should watch it and enjoy a spin on a story you may already love but from a different cultural background.

Plus, the amphibian man looks like a sparkly disco ball in his design, and if that isn’t a reason to watch, I don’t know what is.

Imagine Edward’s chest from Twilight, but all over his body, and that’s the amphibian man for you.

Just don’t expect Icthyander to have a happy ending; the best stories tend to be heartbreaking.

Speaking of mermaids, you should also check out the best mermaid horror movies.

Per Astra Ad Aspera (1981)

Next up on the list is one of the best movies, Per Astra Ad Aspera, directed by Richard Viktorov and Nikolai Viktorov and released in 1981.

Why You Should Watch It

You should give it a watch if you love the feeling of a dead universe where there is nothing between you and the unforgiving void of space.

Combine that with a strange woman with stranger abilities, and it is a recipe for a unique speculative fiction film

Solaris (1972)

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, Solaris was released in 1972.

Why You Should Watch It

This is well worth watching because it is an atmospheric and moody movie.

It doesn’t rely on jump scares or cheap kills to make you uncomfortable.

Instead, it takes the finer points of human nature, the concept of madness, and how it can worm its way into a group, slowly causing everyone to spiral.

It is a terrifying concept, and Tarkovsky does it beautifully.

While Steven Soderbergh made a remake in 2002 starring George Clooney as Kevin, it does not capture the same atmosphere as the original.

So give the original a watch, but avoid the remake if you can help.

Hard To Be A God (2013)

Last, we have Hard To Be A God, directed by Aleksei German Sr and based on Russian literature by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

Why You Should Watch It

While many movies on this list are long movies, this one is nearly three hours long, but as you get sucked into this parallel world and watch the main character struggle with remaining neutral, you will barely notice the time pass.

So what are you waiting for? Give Hard To Be A God a watch; you won’t regret it!

Conclusion

The best Russian sci-fi movies are from the 1960s to the late 1990s.

These films explore social and global issues that affected Russia during this time, typically the Soviet era, giving us films with much commentary.

Even today, the stories told within these stories have a place and meaning in the modern era.

Most of these movies are in the Russian language, but some have been translated or come with subtitles, so keep that in mind when looking at the movies on this list.

Russian sci-fi films are some of the best in the genre, combining social commentary with traditional tropes like time travel, space exploration, terrifying alien species, and the never-ending desire to learn more about the world.

Many of the films on this list have been popular for over fifty years and will likely continue to be popular for another fifty.

If you enjoyed this article, check out The Best 1950s Sci-Fi Movies Every Filmmaker Should Know for even more great sci-fi films!

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  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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