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Movies that will enrich your enjoyment of the 2018 World Cup

WORLD CUP FAN
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A look at some of the countries and some corresponding movies that provide a glimpse inside their borders.

Every four years, 32 countries from around the globe gather together for a spectacle that practically shuts the world down. Businesses close. Schools let out early. For some countries, soccer’s World Cup is a month-long party — or, at least, a party for as long as the country’s competitive, that is.

I love the World Cup. Even when the United States isn’t in the hunt (like this year), seeing a soccer titan like Argentina tie with tiny Iceland is as fun as it gets. But it’s not just the sport itself that’s cool. It’s the international variety we see on sport’s biggest stage: All of these countries are so different — in style, in attitude, in culture. It reminds us that, even as the world shrinks and grows a bit more homogenous, how beautifully different we still all are — and how much we can learn from one another.

RUSSIA
Shutterstock.com

But for those of us whose passports are woefully lacking in stamps, how can we and our families get to know each of these countries a little better? Why, through the movies, of course! Here’s a look at a few of the countries participating in this year’s World Cup and some corresponding movies that may provide a quick, potentially moving glimpse inside their borders. (Or, at least, provide you with a couple of hours of family fun.)

Russia

The host country was not expected to contend for anything this World Cup. But home-field advantage can do wonders, and in its first two matches the Russian squad is now 2-0, outscoring its opponents a convincing 8-1.

Finding great movies that showcase the sprawling country of Russia can be as daunting as the country itself. The old U.S.S.R. made what’s considered one of the classics of silent film in 1925 with Battleship Potemkin, and novels by Russia’s acclaimed novelists have been made and remade into many a fine film.

But my favorite “Russian” film may be David Lean’s sweeping 1965 epic Doctor Zhivago (PG-13) — a love story that straddles old Czarist Russia and the formative Soviet Union. It can be a difficult movie, but the cinematography and scenery is breathtaking. And if you don’t have air conditioning, watching Zhivago and Lara plow through snowy Siberia can be a cool, emotional respite from the summer’s heat. You can rent the film on YouTube, Amazon Prime and other sources for $2.99.

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO
Warner Brothers

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