Yet for all its raping and pillaging, lost youth and rum soaked adventures...hold on I think I've got the wrong pirates...for all its stealing of poor, struggling artists' works (or X-factor runner-up bargain bin cover compilations) and undermining of a golden cinematic tradition (when its not exposing of the mediocrity of yet another half-arsed remake of an uninspiring sequel) there is a positive side.
If, like me, you value the opportunity to expand your cultural horizons, beyond the limits of mass consumed, MTV driven, advertising-exec friendly fodder, then the internet is a wonderful place. [I'll get off my soap-box in a minute, I just don't want to interrupt the flow...] It allows you to sample infinite delights, free of charge, encouraging easy and adventurous exploration before any well informed purchases - of which I still insist on making - of material in their vacuum sealed, plastic wrapped and packaged form. (Bonus features included)
It is with this in mind that I encourage anyone interested in exploring some of the delights of Soviet and Russian cinema to turn their browser to the following YouTube channel: 'birubirFilms'
I won't try and provide an exhaustive list of what is on offer here, all subtitled in English and lovingly uploaded with a brief account of their place in film / television history. If you check the comments page you can also find a direct link to download them in DivX for digestion at leisure.
Never mind the benefits this is going to have for my language and understanding of Russian culture, some of these are just wonderful films. Enjoy!
UPDATE: Nice while it lasted. Seems the bods at YouTube were more particular about copyright infringement than you or I...
Not sure how long it will last but someone else is now carrying the torch for free access to subtitled Russian films. Search 'IgorRusland' and their profile should come up. For how long is anyone's guess!