Roger von Oech

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Hi Roger

Wow, you're about to have a great adventure! Lucky you and your wife.

I used to live in Moscow and have visited St Petersburg (and Leningrad!) many times. I don't have a film recommendation for you as such. I have two museums and a book (though the book has doubtless been turned into a film at some point so might be worth searching for).

The book is Bulgakov's 'Master and Margarita', an incredibly rich satirical take on Soviet life. I also recommend visiting the museum at Bulgakov's flat in Moscow. The website appears to be only in Russian, but Wikipedia's entry on Bulgakov offers much info on him & the museum (

The other museum I recommend is in St Petersburg. The Kunstkamera ( is an amazing place. Allow a day to do it justice!! And - if you can stomach it - the most memorable section is the pickled babies. I won't go into too much detail so you can discover it for yourself...

I wish you well on your journey!

Pavel Sokolov

Hello Roger,

All listed films are more or less concidered classic in Russia.

I would recommend, from the top of my head, "Stalker" and "Dead Man's Letters" The latter is quite tricky to find.

Do you plan to visit Moscow and StPete only or some smaller towns, say, from so called "Golden Ring of Russia"?

Here is a collection of facts each visitor of Russia should know ;)


David Warner

Hi Roger,

I'll throw in some good classics for you, even though there's a good chance you've already seen them:

Battleship Potemkin – a 1925 silent piece of Soviet revolutionary propaganda. Its approach towards film editing was very influential; the climactic scene has been referenced in many movies since (De Palma's The Untouchables being the most obvious example).

Solaris – Russia's 2001. Steven Soderbergh made an American version of this a couple years ago, but the original is, of course, better.

Enjoy the trip!




I am from Moscow and I am a big fun of your books and ideas/
Is this possible to meet yoy in Moscow?

I am a screenwriter working for Russian TV and movie/

Just recently I was interwiewd by TV channel on the subject of creative tools and I was mentioning your work.

Katie Konrath

Hi Roger, It sounds like you have a very exciting trip planned!

Although it's not a movie, I recommend reading a little about TRIZ. It's a Russian innovation system created by Heinrich Altshuller. He examined thousands of patents for patterns and created a system for predicting a product's next stages of invention.

It's incredibly fascinating! I had a course about it in St Petersburg several years ago, and it was an amazing experience.

Katie Konrath

* TRIZ was created by Genrich Altshuller .

Sorry for the typo.


Thanks to you Roger for your synopsis of these movies and the invitation for suggestions. Thanks also to those who have commented, as I am the one going with Roger on this trip.

I would also solicit more ideas for books, especially fiction. (Thanks Emily for the Bulgakov book). I am aware of the classics (Roger and I are listening to the Teaching Company lectures on Russian Literature) and have read the following novels by non-Russian authors: Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean (life in the Hermitage during WWII seige of Leningrad), The People's Act of Love (Siberia at the end of the Russian Revolution) by James Meek, and The White Russian (January 1917 murder mystery) by Tom Bradby. Any ideas are welcome!

Roger von Oech

Emily: Thanks for your suggestions — especially the museums. Much appreciated.

Pavel: Thanks for the film recommendation. Thanks also for the kind words.

David: Thanks for your recommendations. I've seen Soderberg's liveless version of "Solaris." If I have time, I'll take a look at the original.

Katie: Thanks for the headsup about TRIZ. I have a number of clients who have spoken highly about its effectiveness.


Hi Roger,

i recommend two movies "Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor - 2004)" and "Day Watch (Drevnoy Dozor - 2006)" as addition to the others'.. Most people regard this serie as "Russian Matrix".. i hope you love sci-fi..
Have a good time in your trip.. Best wishes.. Paka!


Hi Roger,
here are a couple of russian movies to see.
- Nebo. Samolet. Devushka (Sky. Plane. Girl)
- Boginya (Godess)
- Nokonchennaja pjesa dlja mekhanicheskogo pianino (Unfinished music for an meсhanical Piano)
- Ironija sud'by ili S legkim parom! (Irony of Destiny)
- Sluzhebnyj roman (Office lovestory)
AND DON'T FORGET ABOUT CARTOONS!!!! Sometimes so called RUSSIAN SOUL is shown here better than in movies!
Highly recomended:
- Ezhik v tumane (The hitchhog in fog)
- Varezhka (The Mitten)
- Volshebnoe koltso (The Magic Ring)
- Nu pogodi! (could be translated as I WILL GET YOU!) - the russian "answer" to Tom and Jerry. In the russian version that's an endless story about Wolf and Hare.
I wish you and your wife all the best! Please take care about your luggage and don't use unoficial taxi in Russia.

Pavel Sokolov

Second take on films.
I second "Office romance" by Ryzanov ( ,, 1977) -- a lovestory in a very Soviet-style surroundings: State Statistics ministry with tiny details of work environment of that time.

Same director, Ryazanov. "Garage" (, 1979) - a comedy where a garage committee tries to distribute a very scarce resource - parking boxes. All members provided funding equally, but not everyone will get one. All film shot just in one room.

"That Munchhausen" (, 1979, by Zakharov) -- quite inspiring film. A comedy with tragic end.

Zakharov and Ryazanov produced many other notable fims, just look up at IMDB.

Note that Soderberg did not redo Solaris by Tarkovskiy, rather did another cinema version of Solyaris by Stanislav Lem - a very notable Polish writer.


Perhaps you could enjoy satirical novels by Ilf and Petrov ( They depict life in early USSR, 30s, but still appear up-to-date.


PS there are two Pavels here...

Lewis Green


Have a great trip! I have been fascinated by Russia for most of my adult life, and took two classes in Russian History at the University of Florida. It's a magnificent culture with which, I believe, we have much in common.

Vitaly Kolesnik

A list of notable 2006/2007 Russian movies from my friend cinema critic:

Boris Khlebnikov's "Svobodnoe plavanie" (Free Sailing), Alexander Velidinsky's "Zhivoy" (Alive), Kirill Serebrennikov's "Izobrazhaya zhertvu" (Posing as a Victim), Pavel Lungin's "Ostrov" (The Island), Timur Bekmambetov's "Dnevnoy Dozor" (Day Watch), Alexey Balabanov's "Gruz 200" (Load 200), Oxana Bychkova's "Piter FM", Ivan Vyrypayev's "Euphoria", Alexey Mizgirev's "Kremen" (Flint).

Robert Egorov

Hi Roger,

Pavel Lungin's "Ostrov" (The Island).

This film was changed my life.
Try to watch it.

Roger von Oech

Sihirli: Thanks for your suggestions!

Lilia: Thanks the recommendations, and advice.

Pavel: Thanks again!

Lewis: Perhaps next spring for you.

Vitaly: Thanks a bunch. Great list. Thanks also for the link!

Robert: I'll try to get a hold of it!


Hi Roger,

"The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed" was a cult movie in the USSR. Here's some info about it:;


I second "The Irony of Fate"
and "Business Romance" (Sluzhebnyi Roman)

As for the reading, maybe Bulgakov's "The Heart of a Dog".
Also, Ludmila Ulitskaya "Kukotsky's Case":

Have a great trip!

Juan Antonio Pizarro

We met today at the lunch offered by Portafolio in Bogota, in which I failed to mention that I had travelled recently with my wife and kids to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. I was fascinated with both cities but specially with Moscow, a city that I felt is in the process of re-making itself. I do not have films to recommend but a must go are the two Tetryakov Galleries. Hopefully in the original museum you will find open the room dedicated to Mikail Vrubel, unfortunately closed to the public when I visited with my son.
If you have time and the willingness to deal with the caotic traffic of Moscow I recommend that you visit the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius. It´s about an hour drive from Moscow but well worth the effort.
I'm positive you'll have a blast as we did.

Tanja Damjanovic

Dear Sirs, I would like to see again russian movie I do not name in russian, but maybe the Irony of destiny, maybe 30 years old, about some mixup with towns and flats aroun New year. Please, help me to find it !?!
Thanks in advance, Tanja

Tanja Damjanovic

Dear Sirs, I would like to see again russian movie I do not name in russian, but maybe the Irony of destiny, maybe 30 years old, about some mixup with towns and flats aroun New year. Please, help me to find it !?!
Thanks in advance, Tanja


Tanja, yes, you're right the movie name is Irony of Destiny. This year a new version of this movie was showed on the screens. And it's brilliant!

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