On Window to Paris (which I’m not sure ever made it to DVD):
A Russian film, this, which came out in 1993 and which features a teacher affirming to his pupils, “You were born into a miserable, crooked, bankrupt country, but it is still your home.” That is, post-Red Russia is still their home and, unlike Communist Russia, ought to be given a chance. Paris, on the other hand, is not the Russian pupils’ home, just a dazzling locus the economically disadvantaged characters here happen to reach via a magical window in a St. Petersburg apartment building. So, yes, Yuri Mamin‘s film is a comic fantasy, a very amusing one. For me not all its humor works, but most of it does—and the movie as a whole works.
Mamin has purveyed a good story and intelligent concerns, and he knows how to direct. It delights the spectator when those earthy Russians discover France’s prosperity, but it is worth remembering a point the critic James Bowman has made: that what these characters desire is “a way to enjoy the riches of the West at will, but then and always to return to dreary mother Russia.” In other words, they want the impossible but, well, they’re only human and at least a love for mother Russia has never died in their bosoms.
(In Russian with English subtitles)