If your Russian level is intermediate or advanced and you’ve had some conversations with native Russian speakers, you might have found yourself in a situation when somebody says several words or a short phrase and everybody seems to get the idea immediately. Everybody, that is… except for you!
And, the thing isn’t that you haven’t understood the words that were used, but somehow you failed to get the meaning of the whole phrase, because you don’t have enough knowledge of the cultural background. This cultural background is often formed by a number of books and films every Russian knows. I’m not going to talk about books this time; today, my topic is famous Soviet Russian film quotes.
In this article, I’m going to present eight famous quotes from four famous Soviet films. ALL of these quotes are widely used and loved by every Russian. We’ll get started with the film The Diamond Arm (Бриллиа́нтовая рука́). If you haven’t heard about it, nor about the filmmaker Leonid Gaidai, then there is much to be discovered and many opportunities to improve your Russian!
The Diamond Arm
The story, in short, is quite simple: an average Russian citizen, Semyon Semyonych Gorbunkov, wins a two-week cruise around the Mediterranean Sea as a prize. During his trip, he has an accident and breaks his arm. While he’s unconscious, bad guys hide smuggled diamonds under his cast.
The funny thing is that the hero is a very naïve person and doesn’t realize those things. Back in Russia, the bad guys want to get their diamonds back, and a series of funny events takes place…
I’m sure every Russian has seen this film at least 10 times and can quote many lines. As for me, I’m going to talk about two phrases and explain the situations where you can use them.
1. Семён Семёныч!
This is actually the name of our simpleton hero. We use this line to mildly reproach (in a very friendly and inoffensive way) when someone is doing or saying something evidently naïve or stupid. Have a look at those two clips on YouTube to better understand the situation:
Video 1: Семен Семеныч
Video 2: Семён Семёныч, ну что вы!
In those videos, you’ve seen can see that the hero has tried to hide the money in his cap and a gun in a see-through bag. What a fool!
Let’s imagine another situation: you’ve come to Moscow and meet up with your friend. In a shop, your friend discovers you haven’t exchanged your money. Justifying yourself, you say that you thought it would be possible to pay with US dollars or euros in Moscow. That’s the perfect moment for your friend to say to you,
Semyon Semyonych!-- in this case, meaning, “Could you possibly be more naïve?”
А что, ра́зве в Москве́ нельзя́ плати́ть до́лларами/е́вро?
Why, isn’t it possible to pay with US dollars/euros in Moscow?
Семён Семёныч! Джон, ну у нас же своя́ валю́та — рубли́. Заче́м нам ва́ши до́ллары/е́вро?
Semyon Semyonych! John, we’ve got our own currency. Why would we use dollars/euros?
2. Детя́м моро́женое, ба́бе цветы́.
Ice-cream for the kids, flowers for the woman.
Note that the order of the elements can be reversed in this phrase: ба́бе цветы́, детя́м моро́женое. Pay attention to the stress in the word «детя́м»: it is pronounced in the wrong way, “детЯ́м”, which marks the bad guy as an uneducated person. The correct pronunciation is “дЕ́тям”.
Have a look at the video clip first: Детям мороженое, бабе цветы
From the clip, we can see that the two bad guys are discussing how to approach the family of our naïve hero. So one suggests to bring presents – flowers for his wife and ice-cream for his children. These things are considered to be standard and simple choices. This line is often used to remind a person that a standard gift will do. Check the following conversation:
Слу́шай, А́нна пригласи́ла нас в выходны́е на шашлыки́. Я да́же и не зна́ю, е́хать и́ли не еха́ть.
Look, Anna has invited us to a barbecue this weekend. But, I don’t know whether we should go or not.
Пое́дем, почему́ нет?
Let’s go, why not?
Ну, ду́маю, тогда́ на́до купи́ть что-то в пода́рок. Что-нибудь про́стенькое.
Well, then I think we should buy a present. Something simple.
Угу́, поня́тно. Как говори́тся, ба́бе цветы́, детя́м моро́женое.
Yeah, I see. As they say, flowers for the woman and ice-cream for the kids.
A Prisoner of the Caucasus
This is another very famous comedy by the same filmmaker, Leonid Gaidai: A Prisoner of the Caucasus (Кавка́зская пле́нница).
The main hero’s name is Shurik (Шу́рик) and actually, you can find this character in several other films by Leonid Gaidai! Shurik is a student who comes to the Caucasus in search of the local legends, stories and traditions. There, he meets a beautiful girl, Nina, who is also a student and came to visit her uncle’s family. Shurik fells in love with Nina, but he is not the only one who admires the beautiful girl. There is also a big functionary who wants nothing more but to marry her!
But of course Nina objects marrying the old guy she doesn’t love, so he decides to kidnap her according to a Caucasian tradition. I won’t tell you what happens next as the best way to know it is to watch this absolutely adorable old comedy. So, our next two quotes are taken from this film.
1. Поме́дленнее, я запи́сываю!
Talk slower, I’m writing it down.
The context of this phrase is the following: among other things, Shurik is collecting toasts (speeches pronounced before drinking), which in the Caucasus are sometimes presented in the form of a symbolic story. And of course while you’re giving or listening to a toast, you have to drink wine as well.
Even though Shurik is a teetotaller who doesn’t normally drink, in this circumstance, he can’t resist, and in the process gets completely drunk. That’s when he loses track of where he is and thinks that the local authority’s official speech is yet another toast. He’s trying to write it down, but fails. So he asks them to slow down.
Here is the video link: Помедленнее пожалуйста... Кавказская пленница
So, when do we use this line? Generally, it’s used in quite an informal way, a bit ironically when you haven’t caught the idea or missed it. For example, if somebody’s said an important thing rather quickly and you’d like them to repeat or focus more on that. Pay attention to the drunkard intonation. In certain cases it’s also important to imitate it!
Check the following situation:
Слу́шай, позвони́ ему́ и узна́й, что у́жно привезти́ с собо́й. Да не забу́дь точни́ть, кто и на каки́х маши́нах е́дет. И ещё на́до прове́рить пого́ду.
Look, call him and ask what we should bring with us. And, don’t forget to check who's coming and with what car. And also we’ll need to look at the weather forecast.
Ээ, поме́дленнее, я запи́сываю.
Hey, talk slower, I’m writing it down.
2. Студе́нтка, комсомо́лка, спортсме́нка и про́сто краса́вица.
A student, a Komsomol member, a sportswoman, and just a beautiful girl.
This phrase is applied talking about Nina. As it was filmed in the Soviet times when the Komsomol (the youth division of the Communist Party) still existed, it was an important part of the compliment to show she was a socially responsible person. Nowadays, that idea is lost, of course, so some people can omit this element. But, the beginning and the ending words stay untouched, so that everyone recognizes the quote.
Here is the video: Кавказская пленница - Просто красавица!
You can use this phrase to praise one of your female friends in a slightly teasing way (mostly discussing the girl in question with someone). This line usually means you’re aware of the girl’s reputation, and of the fact that she’s considered to be a good catch. Here is a sample dialogue:
Слу́шай, а кто э́та де́вушка, с кото́рой ты то́лько что разгова́ривал?
Look, who's that girl you were just talking to?
Как, ты не зна́ешь А́ню??
Hey, don’t you know Anya??
No, I don’t.
Ты что, это же студе́нтка, комсомо́лка, спортсме́нка и про́сто краса́вица…
Oh my, she’s a student, a Komsomol member, a sportswoman, and just a beautiful girl.
А отку́да ты её зна́ешь?
And how do you know her?
Она́ лу́чшая подру́га мое́й сестры́. Тебя́ познако́мить?
She’s my sister’s best friend. Do you want me to introduce you?
We’re going to our next film, another one by Leonid Gaidai--you can see that he’s a really important figure in the history of the Soviet cinema! The film is Ivan Vasilievitch Changes His Occupation (Ива́н Васи́льевич меня́ет профе́ссию).
ИВА́Н ВАСИ́ЛЬЕВИЧ МЕНЯ́ЕТ ПРОФЕ́ССИЮ
Ivan Vasilievitch Changes His Occupation
An interesting fact about this film is that it’s based on the play written by Mikhail Bulgakov. Also, here we again meet our old friend Shurik. In this film, he’s an aspiring engineer who’s invented a time machine.
Thanks to his invention, he can get into the ancient Moscow under the rule of Ivan the Terrible. But it wouldn’t be a comedy if a certain number of mistakes didn’t take place, like bringing Ivan the Terrible into modern Moscow and exchanging him with Shurik’s house manager Ivan Vasilievitsh, the tsar’s identical twin. A bit of a Back to the Future twist.
1. Красота́-то кака́я! Лепота́!
How beautiful it is! How fine!
Check the video link first: Иван Васильевич меняет профессию.Лепота.
In the video, you can see the tsar Ivan the Terrible admiring the beautiful view of modern Moscow (well, the Moscow of the 1960s). As the tsar lives in the 16th century, he uses a very old word, “лепота́,” which is an obsolete synonym of the word “красота́” (beauty).
You can use this phrase when you are admiring any beautiful view, whether an urban landscape or a wonder of nature. Keep the intonation and don’t forget the key word “лепота́,” which will impress your Russian friends for sure!
Эх, давно́ я не́ был в лесу́! Красота́-то кака́я… лепота́!
Oh, it’s been such a long time since I last was in the forest! How beautiful it is… how fine!
2. И тебя́ вы́лечат, и меня́ вы́лечат!
You too will be cured, and I'll be cured as well!
This phrase is said by the wife of the house manager Ivan Vasilievitch when she realizes there are two identical men who are both claiming their name is Ivan Vasilievitch. She thinks they’re all gone mad, including herself, so she rings the psychiatric hospital for help. She hopes everyone will be cured of their madness.
Check the video: И тебя вылечат. Иван Васильевич...
In my family, this phrase is used very often towards my mum, who’s a very emotional person and can easily go overboard. In a situation when she’s suggesting something insane or just is being too angry and loud, my dad or me would say this phrase to give her a signal that she’s being a bit over the top.
So this phrase, of course, implies a very close, friendly relationship between the people and is mostly used to show that a person has gone overboard with their ideas or reactions.
Нет, ну ты про́сто сошёл с ума́! Мы же уже 100 раз говори́ли об э́том!
No, you’re completely insane! We’ve talked about this 100 times!
Да ла́дно тебе́, не волну́йся так!
Well, come on, don’t worry so much!
Что зна́чит ла́дно? Это каки́м идио́том на́до быть, что́бы доду́маться до тако́го!!
How now? You must be a complete idiot to have come to that idea!!
Дорога́я, не волну́йся. И тебя́ вы́лечат, и меня́ вы́лечат…
Darling, don’t worry. You too will be cured, and I will be cured as well…
The Pokrovsky Gate
Our next film can be considered a treasure due to the fact that it contains lots of widely used quotes and, in fact, is utterly poetic.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to understand even for some native Russian speakers because of a rich cultural background and a very thinly woven symbolic language. Nonetheless, many quotes are easily recognized and widely used. I’m talking about The Pokrovsky Gate (Покро́вские воро́та), by Michail Kozakov.
The story takes place in the 1950s in a Moscow communal flat, which is a shared apartment between several families who often have a friends/enemies relationship. In the film, there are several people living at the same apartment whose lives are closely intertwined. One of those amazing relationships is a unusual triangle between a woman, her ex-husband and her current husband. It’s a strange and slightly unhealthy relationship, as the woman tries to control the lives of both of her husbands, and doesn’t let her ex go.
One day, for example, she and her ex-husband’s family friends visit her new family and she insists on having a dinner with both of her husbands, who seem to be best friends. The visitors are impressed with their relationship, and leaving the party, say the famous phrase:
1. Высо́кие, высо́кие отношения!
Such a high, lofty relationship!
Have a look at this video and pay attention to the intonation and the effusive manner with which it is pronounced:
Usually we use this line ironically (it’s important to keep the same intonation!) when talking about a relationship we find abnormal or weird, or when people are behaving differently from what is being expected. Let’s look at the sample dialogue:
Слу́шай, а что у Же́ньки жена́ не рабо́тает?
Look, isn’t it that Zhenya’s wife doesn’t work?
И дете́й у них нет?
And they have no children?
Нет. Вро́де, она пока́ не хо́чет дете́й.
No, they haven’t. It seems that she doesn’t want kids yet.
И гото́вить, похо́же, она́ не гото́вит. Ве́чно он «дошира́ками» обе́дает.
It also looks like that she doesn’t cook. He’s always having instant noodles for lunch.
И как он это те́рпит?
How can he stand it?
Поня́тия не име́ю!
Да уж, высо́кие, высо́кие отноше́ния!
Yeah, that’s such a high, lofty relationship!
Actually, the main character of this film is a History student Kostik (Ко́стик) who presents us this story. He’s a very mischievous young lad and often makes fun of his neighbours and causes them some stress, especially Velurov, a professional performer of satirical songs. Velurov is a talented guy, but like many fellow artists, he drinks quite a lot of alcohol in search of inspiration. Our next and last quote comes from his mouth and is one of my favourites.
2. Заме́тьте, не я́ это предложи́л!
You asked for it!, or literally, “Please note that it wasn’t me who suggested this”
The situation is that Kostik fancies a drink, and, knowing that Velurov has alcohol in his disposition and wouldn’t mind sharing, he suggests having a small glass (presumably of vodka). Velurov is unable to say no, but he doesn’t want to be responsible for getting them drunk, so he says this phrase, meaning it wasn’t his idea. It’s a lot like the English phrase, “Alright, but it was your idea!”
Have a look at the video: Заметьте: не я это предложил! Покровские ворота
Mainly, this expression is used when we want to transfer our responsibility for something we know is not good onto someone else. And, make sure you don’t change the quote -- there’s no need to put the verb into a feminine form like ‘предложи́ла’ if you’re a woman. Take a glance at the following sample dialogue:
Ой, так х́очется моро́женого… Но я ведь на дие́те, мне нельзя́!
Oh, I fancy an ice cream… But I’m on a diet, and it’s not allowed!
Да к чёрту эту дие́ту! Дава́й съеди́м по моро́женому!
To hell with this diet! Let’s have an ice cream!
Заме́тьте, не я́ это предложи́л!...Дава́й!
You asked for it… but okay!
And so, we’re done with our introductory trip through famous Soviet Russian film quotes. But I hope this is not the end of it, but rather a beginning of a life-time journey for every intermediate or advanced Russian student!
If you intend to explore the same topic, this website can be very useful.
Good luck, and don’t forget to leave your comments!