The Magic of the Children’s Films from the Soviet Union

One characteristic of the Soviet films that I hold dear, is that they are humane, moral (often without being moralising), centre on the characters, rather than action and events. The films for grown-ups, be it a war-time film or a film about a mundane everyday life, would always have several layers of meaning – good film makers knew how to convey what they wanted to say to the audience without raising the alarms of censorship. All that resulted in films that would have depth, satire, criticism, thoughtfulness in them.

But here I want to write about children films. The films that formed our, my, world view, that taught us about fairness, compassion, friendship, the pitfalls of negative relations. They were a joy to watch, and they left a trace in your heart, a moral compass that no religion can give you, as morality was based on your own desire to do good, rather than fearing a punishment from the holder of the scriptures if you do wrong.

One such outstanding film is “Visitor from the Future”, released in 1985 and filmed at the Central Studio of Children and Youth Films named after M. Gorky in Moscow. And the bright star of that film is its title song, “The Beautiful Faraway”. In 1985 nothing was outwardly speaking of the time of troubles that lay ahead, in just short 7 years, the Wild 90’s and the Desolation of Yeltsin. But in retrospect, this song turned out to be prophetic, and at the same time it was a testament, an oath of how to conduct oneself in the difficult times ahead, how to stay strong. The song does not promise paradise lands, but rather trials and only asks to not be treated too cruelly along the way to the unknown future, walking the untrodden path towards the future of 2084.

Staring into the eyes of the girl who looks at me from the screen, I see a reflection of me, of my childhood, and the promise that I made to myself in my early youth – to never forget my childhood and the values that I learnt back then, no matter what life throws at me. And I know that many of my generation were influenced by this film in the same way, something that allowed us to stay strong in the chaos that came shortly after.

Listen to it (the English translation is below), as sung in its original form. The video presents cuts of main character of the film, played by Natasha Guseva, an actress, who, when she grew up, continued to live by the moral code of the film through the Wild 90’s and till this day…

Слышу голос из прекрасного далёка,
Голос утренний в серебряной росе,
Слышу голос, и манящая дорога
Кружит голову, как в детстве карусель.

Прекрасное далёко, не будь ко мне жестоко,
Не будь ко мне жестоко, жестоко не будь.
От чистого истока в прекрасное далёко,
В прекрасное далёко я начинаю путь.

Слышу голос из прекрасного далёка,
Он зовёт меня не в райские края,
Слышу голос, голос спрашивает строго —
А сегодня что для завтра сделал я.

Прекрасное далёко, не будь ко мне жестоко,
Не будь ко мне жестоко, жестоко не будь.
От чистого истока в прекрасное далёко,
В прекрасное далёко я начинаю путь.

Я клянусь, что стану чище и добрее,
И в беде не брошу друга никогда,
Слышу голос, и спешу на зов скорее
По дороге, на которой нет следа.

Прекрасное далёко, не будь ко мне жестоко,
Не будь ко мне жестоко, жестоко не будь.
От чистого истока в прекрасное далёко,
В прекрасное далёко я начинаю путь.

Прекрасное далёко, не будь ко мне жестоко,
Не будь ко мне жестоко, жестоко не будь.
От чистого истока в прекрасное далёко,
В прекрасное далёко я начинаю путь.

I hear the voice from the beautiful faraway,
A morning voice in a silvery dew,
I hear the voice, and the tempting road
Spins my head, as a carousel of my childhood.

Beautiful faraway, don’t be cruel to me,
Don’t be cruel to me, don’t be.
From the clear beginnings into the beautiful faraway,
Into the beautiful faraway I start my journey.

I hear the voice from the beautiful faraway,
It calls me not to the paradise lands,
I hear the voice, and the voice is asking sternly –
What have I done today for the sake of tomorrow.

Beautiful faraway, don’t be cruel to me,
Don’t be cruel to me, don’t be.
From the clear beginnings into the beautiful faraway,
Into the beautiful faraway I start my journey.

I swear that I’ll become purer and kinder,
And will never abandon a friend in need,
I hear the voice, and hasten to the call
Along the untrodden road with no trail.

Beautiful faraway, don’t be cruel to me,
Don’t be cruel to me, don’t be.
From the clear beginnings into the beautiful faraway,
Into the beautiful faraway I start my journey.

Beautiful faraway, don’t be cruel to me,
Don’t be cruel to me, don’t be.
From the clear beginnings into the beautiful faraway,
Into the beautiful faraway I start my journey.

Here are all 5 episodes with English subtitles of this marvellous and thoughtful, funny and sad film:

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