Watching movies in Russian is certainly one of the best ways to practice the language in a passive way, improve your listening skills and learn many new words and expressions.
However, there are some nuances to consider when watching movies in Russian in order to make this process into the ideal entertainment and learning experience.
Here you’ll find out the best websites to watch films in Russian with or without subtitles, some useful tools and tricks and my personal opition on subtitles.
Also, I’ll not distinguish between “Russian movies” and “movies in Russian” because they both can be found on the same platforms.
Pop some popcorn!
- Russian in Shorts
- Watch movies in Russian on Netflix
- Watch Russian movies on IVI
- Amediateka, home of HBO
- Russian movies on YouTube
- Watch movies in Russian on VK
- Problem and solution
- Movies in Russian with subtitles: right or wrong?
Russian in Shorts
Russian in Shorts is my Patreon page where you can find original short films shot in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries, with multilanguage subtitles, glossaries, cultural insights and grammar explained.
Whatever your proficiency level is, on RUIS – Russian in Short you can learn Russian with short films and fully immerse yourself in the country’s culture and understand the gestures, contexts, situations and realia.
Here is what you will get access to:
1) 5 Russian short films to start with + at least 1 more every week
2) Watch every short film with subtitles in Russian (which correspond to what the actors say!) or in English
3) Downloadable PDF sheets with glossaries, vocabulary, grammar and cultural insights
4) Downloadable PDF dialogue scripts with English translation
5) Change video playback speed
6) Ask me questions with DMs or in the comment section
Watch movies in Russian on Netflix
If you use Netflix, you probably have noticed that there are tons of TV series from all over the world, while the movie library is not really up to date.
Despite that, Netflix still remains an excellent place to watch movies in Russian. Many of them are dubbed and almost all of them have subtitles.
For example, you can use it to enjoy some movies that you have already watched in your language.
When you already know the plot and dialogues, it’s much easier to understand what’s going on and you can focus on the language, even without the help of subtitles.
How to find movies in Russian on Netflix
“But how do I find movies that are in Russian on Netflix?“
Probably you didn’t know that there is a way to sort movies by language on Netflix.
Copy-paste this URL in the search bar (or click on the link): https://www.netflix.com/browse/audio/ru.
You will see a screen like in the picture below (but in your language) with all the TV series and movies in Russian on Netflix.
Language Reactor for learning Russian with Netflix
I’ve been trying to learn French, German and Mandarin Chinese for some time now (with virtually no result :-().
Some days ago, watching a Chinese youtuber, I discovered a fantastic tool for language learning!
It’s called Language Reactor, it’s an extension for Google Chrome and below I’m going to show you how it works.
First of all you need to download and activate it. Then, as soon as you open Netflix, it will ask you what your native language is.
Once you chose your native language (Italian for me) you can go ahead and browse for movies or TV series to watch.
As soon as you open a movie, you will immediately notice something different: the actual display area is smaller and there is a large sidebar with subtitles.
Here you need to click the “settings” icon and select the languages you are interested in (Russian, I suppose).
Now you can start to watch and learn.
I had chosen Ведьмак (the Witcher) as an example, only to realize that Netflix obscures the screenshots, so I had to recreate the scene!
With Language Reactor you can watch movies in Russian with subtitles appearing both on the right and down below, with the translation (which you can hide).
Every time you hover the mouse over a word the video stops and synonyms pop out. You can also save words and create a collection of new terms from your favorite movies.
Be careful though! The subtitles don’t always match the audio!
In this case the audio said “Она великолепна,” while the subtitles write another adjective. They both mean that “she is beautiful,” but they’re still two different words.
Watch Russian movies on IVI
I would define IVI as a Russian Netflix and, as such, it’s entirely in Russian.
Its being Russian made for the Russians leads to some disadvantages, but also many advantages!
Being a platform created for Russian native speakers, it is not possible to watch Russian films with subtitles (well, it’s technically possible, but there’s very few movies with subtitles).
On the other hand, everything you find on this website is originally Russian or has a professional dubbing.
Also, on IVI you gain access to loads of Russian TV series and movies that you can’t find anywhere else.
Do you want to give IVI a try? You can use my affiliate link to access the website and see at the bottom right of the screen a pop-up banner. Copy-paste FreeAdmitad and get a 30-day FREE trial!
It costs nothing to try, in the true sense of the word!
Amediateka, home of HBO
If you are a sucker for HBO movies, look no further than Amediateka.
This website was created to show in Russia the TV series and movies of the US broadcaster.
Amediateka works exactly like Netflix and IVI but offers less options. However, it coul’d save you when you are looking for something specific!
For example, this was the only website in Russia that streamed Американская история ужасов (American Horror Story). There was just no way to find it anywhere else.
Russian movies on YouTube
Believe it or not, you can watch Russian movies on YouTube.
If you’re more into Soviet movies, Классика советского кино (официальный канал) does exactly what it’s stated in the title: uploads Soviet movies and Russian classics (and there are plenty of them).
Киноконцерн “Мосфильм” is also a great page for watching Soviet film classics.
Russian videos and movies with subtitles on YouTube
We all know that on YouTube you can turn on automatic subtitles. We also know that most of the time they don’t write anything like what’s being said in the video.
They surely are not a good option for language learning.
However, in the attempt of making their platform more accessible by people affected by hearing loss, YouTube is encouraging creators to add high quality subtitles to their video.
So, there is a good chance that you can enjoy Russia’s most followed youtubers’ content with subtitles.
Here again Language Reactor comes handy! As you can see in the picture below, it also works on YouTube.
Watch movies in Russian on VK
VKontakte is the “Russian Facebook,” which has many more features than the social network we are used to.
Among others, on VK you can find virtually anything you can think of, from Korean TV series from the 80s to the movie that premiered yesterday.
There are two ways to find movies in Russian on VK.
The first is to search in the “Video” section you can access from the sidebar on the left. Use the filters to select only long files, otherwise trailers and advertisements come out as a result.
Below is an example of me searching for Унесённые призраками (Spirited away by Miyazaki).
You can also watch films in Russian on community pages, which are like Facebook groups.
From the left sidebar, click “Communities” and then “Search for groups,” then insert the keywords of your interest.
Keep in mind that the more the members of a community, the more content you will find in there. Also try to enter closed communities (by sending them a request first).
Problem and solution
Netflix, IVI, Amediateka and even VKontakte are commercial platforms that buy the rights of movies and TV series. The rights they acquire are different: some apply to the whole world, others only to certain countries.
This means that these websites provide different content to different locations. To do so, they geolocate users.
When I access my account from Italy, I get content that is different from what I can watch when I’m in Moscow.
And the same applies to all the other platforms I mentioned above, excluding YouTube.
“Is there a way to access all the Russian content that you can watch from Russia?” Yes!
You need a VPN – a software that changes you IP address and makes the Internet believe that you are in another country.
There are many VPNs out there, but only some of them allow you to choose the country you want to connect from.
I’ve been using Surfshark for some time now and I trully like it because it’s cheap, simple to use and with a single account you can access from all your devices.
Let me show you how I log in to LinkedIn (which is blocked in Russia). It’s this simple:
First, you need to create an account, download the Surfshark extention for your browser and log in. I use Chrome and it pops out in the top right corner of the screen.
At this point you are in the VPN, but not yet connected. As you can see in the picture above, LinkedIn wouldn’t load.
You select “Locations,” choose the country and the city (Moscow or Saint Petersburg) and that’s it! You can now access plenty of movies in Russian!
This is how Surfshark works.
Movies in Russian with subtitles: right or wrong?
I already discussed this topic in the post on my 15 Russian learning tips: learning Russian with subtitles – yes or no?
My answer is: “It depends on your goals and the skill you want to train.”
If you want to learn new words, phrases and expressions, then subtitles lead to a better understanding and memorization, because you see everything in front of our eyes.
In this regard, it would be better to have Russian subtitles., rather than other languages. I know that it’s harder, but as usual the simplest way is also the least effective one.
In my opinion, watching movies in Russian with subtitles doesn’t boost your listening comprehension skills in any way.
In the process of watching films with subtitles our brain doesn’t listen but focuses all its attention on reading.
So, the only way you can train yourself to understand spoken Russian, is by turning subtitles off!
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