Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"The real heroine of Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears is upwardly mobile and transcends her working-class life."--Moscow Believes in Tears: Russians and Their Movies (2014) by Louis Menashe

Related e



Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Москва слезам не верит) (this is an old Russian proverb) is a 1980 Soviet film made by Mosfilm. It was written by Valentin Chernykh and directed by Vladimir Menshov. The leading roles were played by Vera Alentova and by Aleksey Batalov. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1981. The film received mixed reviews from Western critics.



The film is set in Moscow in 1958 and 1979. The plot centers on three young women: Katerina, Lyudmila, and Antonina, who come to Moscow from smaller towns. They are placed together in a workers' dormitory room and eventually become friends. Antonina (Raisa Ryazanova) is seeing Nikolai, a reserved but kind young man whose parents have a dacha in the country. Katerina (Vera Alentova) is a serious, upstanding woman who strives to earn her chemistry degree while working at a factory. She is asked to house-sit an apartment for her well-to-do Moscow relatives (a famous professor's family) while they are away on a trip. Lyudmila (Irina Muravyova), a flirty go-getter looking for a well-to-do husband while working at a bakery, convinces her to throw a dinner party at the apartment, and pretend that they are the daughters of Katerina's professor uncle, as a ploy to meet successful Muscovite men. At the party, Lyudmila talks with Sergei, a famous hockey player, whom she met earlier on a subway train. He has fallen in love with her. They later marry. Katerina meets Rudolf (Yuri Vasilyev), a smooth talker who works as a cameraman for a television channel. They start dating. During a date, he rapes her and she becomes pregnant. During Antonina and Nikolai's wedding, Lyudmila and Antonina find out that Katerina is pregnant. Rudolf refuses to marry Katerina. Katerina is unable to get an abortion because her pregnancy is in a late stage (in 1958 it was legal in the Soviet Union only up to the 12th week) and ends up giving birth.

The film shows Katerina, with tears in her eyes, setting her alarm clock in the dormitory room she shares with her daughter, Aleksandra (subsequently played as a grown young woman by Natalya Vavilova). The film then takes a 20-year leap forward in time to 1979. Katerina is shown waking up to the sound of an alarm clock in her own larger apartment. She is still single, but she has gone from being a down on her luck student to becoming the executive director of a large factory. She has a lover, an older married man named Vladimir (Oleg Tabakov), but she leaves him after he shows himself to be cowardly and disrespectful. Despite her successful career, Katerina feels unfulfilled and weighed down by a deep sadness. She is still close friends with Lyudmila and Antonina. By this time Sergei has quit playing hockey and become an alcoholic. He and Lyudmila are divorced. She works at a dry-cleaning store where she tries to find a bridegroom (preferably a general) amid the clients. Antonina is happily married and has three children.

One evening, when Katerina is returning home from Antonina's dacha in the countryside on an elektrichka (electric commuter train), she meets a man, Gosha (Aleksey Batalov). He notices that she notices his dirty shoes and starts a dialogue with her. She finds him insightful and they soon begin seeing each other. Gosha is an intelligent tool-and-die maker in a research institute, where his instrument maintenance skills are a enormously valued help to his scientist coworkers), but states his belief that a woman should not make more money than her husband, so Katerina tells him nothing about her position. As their romance begins, Rudolf (who has changed his Western name to the older Russian name Rodion) unexpectedly reenters Katerina's life when he is assigned to film an interview with her on her factory's success at exceeding its production quota. At first, he does not recognize her, but when he does, he wants to meet his daughter. Katerina curtly tells him that she does not want to see him again. Rodion then shows up uninvited at her apartment as Katerina is having dinner with Aleksandra and Gosha, who welcomes him politely. Rodion tells Gosha and Aleksandra about the interview, revealing that Katerina is a factory director. Gosha's pride is hurt not only because of Katerina's high position and large salary, but also because (besides having once spoken forcefully to him, for which she apologized) she had kept this fact secret, and he leaves the apartment. Unable to stop him, Katerina is upset with Rodion. She reveals to Aleksandra that Rodion is, in fact, her father.

Gosha disappears from Katerina's life, and she becomes frantic. A week later, Lyudmila, Antonina, and Nikolai come to her apartment to comfort her. Nikolai gathers what little information Katerina knows about Gosha and sets out to find him. Gosha has been binge-drinking at home for days, and Nikolai, during a "men's talk" over vodka, defends Katerina and convinces Gosha to return.

Sobered up, Gosha and the drunk Nikolai return to Katerina's flat. The friends leave, and Gosha asks for dinner. As he eats, Katerina watches him, saying "I've been looking for you for such a long time." "Eight days", Gosha replies, to which Katerina, with tears in her eyes and thinking instead on her life, repeats, "I've been looking for you for such a long time."


Songs from the film

  • Giamaica
  • Bésame mucho
  • Satirical couplets from late 1950s by Pavel Rudakov and Veniamin Nechaev
  • Daddy Cool
  • Александра (Alexandra) by Sergey Nikitin and Tatyana Nikitina
  • Диалог у новогодней ёлки (Dialog u novogodney yolki / A dialogue by the New Year's tree) by Sergey Nikitin and Tatyana Nikitina
  • Давай закурим (Davai zakurim / Let's take a smoke by Klavdiya Shulzhenko

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools