10 best films that showed the beauty of the Carpathians

The Carpathians have become a real trend in Ukrainian cinema. A number of films have been released, the events of which unfold in the Hutsul region: “Brothers. The Last Confession”, “Flight of the Golden Fly”, the series “The Last Muscovite”, the series “Olexa Dovbush – the Legend of the Carpathians”, “The Turtle Dove’s Nest” and many others. In this regard, we decided to recall other iconic films that were filmed in the Ukrainian Carpathians.

Live Vatra (2014)

The film tells about the life of shepherds. To convey on screen the unusual working conditions of the shepherds, the film crew climbed the mountains with them in all weather conditions for three years. Of the 600 hours of footage, only a little over an hour was included in the final edit. The film conveys the subtleties of the Hutsul worldview, depicts mountain authenticity and documents the craft of shepherds, which has been practiced less and less in recent years.

“Living Vatra” participated in about ten international film festivals, where it received a number of prestigious awards.

House of Flying Daggers (2004)

The film takes the viewer to China in the 9th century. An Imperial Police agent is hunting down rebel leaders. To do this, he wins the trust of the daughter of the rebel leader, and while completing the task he falls into a trap.

The film was shown in the out-of-competition program of the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar for cinematography.

To film one of the fight scenes between the film’s characters, director Zhang Yimou chose the Ukrainian Carpathians, because, according to him, there are no mountain landscapes left in China that have not been touched by civilization.

When the film crew arrived in Ukraine and settled in a clearing that was ideal for filming, it suddenly began to snow. According to the script, this scene was supposed to be filmed against a backdrop of green trees and grass. Therefore, the director was in despair. However, he was advised to still film the scene in such conditions and as a result, he admitted that against the white snowy background, the blood stains during fights turned out to be more impressive.

Sinister (2005)

A parable short film from the magician of plasticine animation Stepan Koval tells about a Ukrainian family in whose house the Sinisters settled. They started turning everything upside down. The film was nominated for the Nika Award.

With the beginning of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, the plot of the film became symbolic: envious neighbors send Russian-speaking Sinisters to a quiet Ukrainian family in order to destroy their well-being. Sinisters are the only characters in the film who speak Russian.

Synevir (2013)

The first full-length Ukrainian horror film in 3D tells about a terrible dog-headed beast that lives on the shores of the legendary lake. One day a group of young people are going on a picnic with an overnight stay. They have no idea that a terrible monster is watching them from the darkness.

This is one of the few Ukrainian films that has been widely distributed throughout the world. In the history of Russian cinema, “Sinevir” by the Alyoshechkin brothers became the third film in stereo format, after “I Love You, Period” (2011) and “Rzhevsky vs. Napoleon” (2012).

Ivanki (2010)

The documentary won the international competition “Life in a Day”, which was held by Youtube. The film by Boris Grishkevich shows what shepherds do from sunrise to sunset. He documents in detail how sheep are milked and cheese is made, how cattle are driven to pasture, and what shepherds communicate with each other.

At first, the director wanted to make a film about his actor friend, who was in the mountains at that time. Having filmed material about him, Grishkevich decided to take a ride through the Carpathians. Having met sheep farmers there, the director immediately changed the concept of his film, devoting it entirely to shepherds.

War and Peace (1965)

The battle scenes of one of the main Soviet films, awarded an Oscar, were filmed in the vicinity of the village of Kushtanovitsa (Mukachevo district). It was here that the Battle of Shengraben was filmed. Residents of surrounding villages were offered 25 rubles for filming as extras. And the soldiers of local military units trained for a long time to withstand the ranks of the French and Russian armies of the 19th century.

One of the most impressive episodes of this battle – the flight of the cannonball over the field – was filmed by attaching the camera to a cable car, which at that time was stretched over the field.

Shadows of Unforgotten Ancestors (2013)

While the Romanian Carpathians are famous for Count Dracula, the Ukrainian ones remain a blank spot on the map of legends and myths. Director Lubomir Levitsky decided to correct this unfortunate injustice. With his mystical thriller, he filled our Carpathians with mysterious legends about molfars, who protect the peace of humanity from dark forces.

The film tells the story of a young man who finds himself in the midst of mystical and love passions. An insidious fate will place a crucial battle between good and evil on his weak shoulders.

Waterloo (1970)

After the huge success of War and Peace, Sergei Bondarchuk was assigned to shoot another epic film about Napoleon’s military actions. For the filming of the film “Waterloo” the director chose already tested Transcarpathian locations.

The film tells the story of the decisive battle in the Napoleonic War. Despite the huge budget and

a whole constellation of famous actors in the credits, the film failed at the box office. Upon learning of this, Stanley Kubrick stopped working on his own film about Napoleon. And yet “Waterloo” received critical acclaim – the film was awarded two British Academy Film Awards.

Stone Cross (1968)

The legendary creation of Leonid Osyka competes with Parajanov’s “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” for the title of the main Ukrainian film of the 60s. The plot of the film is based on two short stories by Stefanik, “The Court” and “The Stone Cross.”

The idea to film this, to this day the only full-length film adaptation of Stefanik’s works, was born in the dormitory of the film school. Once Leonid Osika, while still a student, told Ivan Drach that he would like to film Stefanik. The poet was struck by this idea, because the Russian-speaking Kiev resident, who was the future director of this film, could hardly convey the specific style of Western Ukrainian life. However, Drach liked the idea so much that he still wrote the script.

Drach graduated from VGIK in 1964, and Osina in 1965. Fortunately, the conversation in the Moscow hostel did not remain just a good memory of my student years. Three years later this film was released.

Forgotten Peoples (2013)

There are many TV shows about the Carpathians. But few of them had such wide publicity as the tape filmed by the Franco-German channel ARTE. This 43-minute film revealed to the European audience the Carpathian phenomenon, the culture of the Hutsuls and the Carpathians as a whole. Bassist of the group “Coralli” Vasily Yuzkov and plastunka Vika Sokolovskaya acted as a guide through the film.

The film is part of the multi-part project “Forgotten Peoples,” which showed European viewers the peculiarities of life of little-known ethnic groups around the world.

The following films were also filmed in the Carpathians:

  • Masha the Unfaithful (1934)
  • Battle of Stalingrad (1949)
  • Conspiracy of the Doomed (1950)
  • Career of Dima Gorin (1961)
  • Lark (1964)
  • Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964)
  • Trembita (1968)
  • White Bird with a Black Mark (1970)
  • The Only Road (1974)
  • Tabor goes to heaven (1976)
  • Duenna (1978)
  • Action (1987)
  • Zhmenyak (1987)
  • Carpathian Gold (1991)
  • Psychic (1992)
  • The Iron Hundred (2004) and other films directed by Oles Yanchuk, dedicated to the UPA
  • Import – Export (2007)
  • A smile on your face and tears in your eyes (2008)


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