Ivan Vasilyevich Changes His Profession

1973 [RUSSIAN]

Adventure / Comedy / Sci-Fi

IMDb Rating 8.2/10 10 17590 17.6K

Plot summary

A scientist builds a time machine and accidentally sends his apartment complex manager and a petty burglar to 16th century Moscow, while Tsar Ivan the Terrible travels to 1973.

July 19, 2023 at 11:45 AM


Leonid Gaidai

Top cast

843.99 MB
Russian 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 31 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by reelreviewsandrecommendations 7 / 10

Back In The U.S.S.R.

In early 1970's Moscow, scientist Shurik toils in his apartment trying to create a working time-machine. He is dedicated to the task, so dedicated he barely registers it when his wife leaves him. One day, Shurik successfully transports himself back to the time of Ivan The Terrible, taking with him a burglar and the superintendent of his building. While Shurik makes it back to the present, there is one problem: the other two are left in the 1500's and Ivan the Terrible has come home with him. So begins a raucous tale combining science-fiction, comedy and history: Leonid Gaidai 's 'Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession.'

Based on the play 'Ivan Vasilievich' by Mikhail Bulgakov, the film tells a wild tale that is sure to entertain. A successful combination of science fiction with comedy, it contains much broad humor, as well as many witty moments and acerbic set pieces. The Tsar's reactions to the contemporary world and its' trappings makes for fantastic satire, highlighting the cultural juxtaposition between the Russia of the past and (that which was then) the present. One also may learn a little about the country's history from the film- though to rely on it as a teaching aide for that purpose would be folly. While the ending is a little underwhelming, the film is a crazy, funny trip through time that is full of delights.

'Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession' is also a visually striking movie, with Vitali Abramov and Sergei Poluyanov's naturalistic cinematography being strong, though slightly traditionalist work in terms of composition and framing. The production design- overseen by Yu. Fomichov and Yevgeni Kumankov- is stylish work, making everything on screen seem deeply textured and intricate. The set and location work is of an especially high, rich quality, really bringing life and realism to the picture; which works as a counterbalance to the fantasy of the narrative.

Nadezhda Buzina's costume design brings additional authenticity to the film, with her detailed work lingering in the mind long after the credits have ceased to roll. Her outfits for the Tsar are particularly impressive, not to mention appearing reasonably period accurate. Aleksandr Zatsepin's musical score also impresses, being highly atmospheric and stirring. He makes good use of traditional- and not so traditional- numbers throughout- with the film's version of 'Marusya' being most memorable. Additionally, Klavdiya Aleyeva's editing should be mentioned, as it is effective work that keeps the somewhat chaotic proceedings coherent and moving at a steady pace.

All in the cast are fantastic and clearly having a ball with the movie. Yury Yakovlev plays a dual role as the Tsar and the Superintendent, clearly delineating both characters as individuals through the depth of his physicality. He is terrific as both men, and will really make you laugh. Leonid Kuravlyov plays the burglar, and is equal parts charming and deceitful. Kuravlyov brings a lot of good-natured humour to the role, and is immensely likable. Aleksandr Demyanenko has less to do as Shurik, but does it well, and the supporting cast can't be faulted. Of particular note is Natalya Seleznyova, playing Shurik's wife. She has impeccable comic timing, and steals the few scenes she's in completely.

Leonid Gaidai's 'Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession' is a wacky comedy with science-fiction elements that has a lot going for it. The story and screenplay is full of witty dialogue and wild scenarios, as well as being satirical, featuring much irony and social commentary, about (what was then) contemporary Russia and its' past. The cast perform admirably, the visual style is distinct- if sometimes orthodox- and the score is rousing. While the film may lose steam near the end, 'Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession' is a terrific tale of time travel that is an awful lot of fun.

Reviewed by hte-trasme 8 / 10

Ivan is Terrible... the movie is not!

This comedy was adapted from a play by Bulgakov that I've had trouble finding a copy of, so I don't know how much it diverges. The events (present-day ones anyway) must have been brought a few decades into the future, but it certainly preserves Bulgakov's talent for letting that natural results of a silly situation speak for themselves in order to make any point he may be coming to -- in this case a time machine to allow a contemporary stick in the mud neighbor (accompanied by a comic thief) to switch places with Ivan the Terrible.

The bookish, spacey "Shurik" character, who previously appeared in two other films, is inserted, and with his third a pattern is established that each film got more expensive-looking and better made, and less of the story had to do with Shurik each time. Aleksandr Demyanenko is funny again, but the real humor comes from the Tsar and his lookalike.

As one can imagine, farcical situations emerge from the two being unfamiliar with each other's times and social positions, but the jokes themselves don't seem predictable. On the contrary, the whole thing has a huge, infectious sense of fun about it, from the silly opening credits to Miloslavsky's breaking of the fourth wall, to the self-consciously reset ending. It feels like everyone involved decided they gave a damn only about making a fun movie, and the fun is infectious.

I'm only learning Russian now as a second language, so I could tell that there were jokes that arise out of Ivan's use of Slavonic archaisms and Bunsha'a inability to do the same, but I don't think I got all the subtleties that there were there. But didn't stop me from thinking this was one of the funniest and most enjoyable of the Russian comedies which I have been watching lately.

Reviewed by luttens 10 / 10

Perfect blend!

It is perhaps the best Soviet comedy ever made... But it`s very difficult for a person, who does not speak Russian to understand it completely. The movie is full with tricky details, specific language and many funny episodes, so typical for the Socialist era. It is a constant pleasure to watch over and over again!

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