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Zhila-byla odna baba (2011)

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A chronicle of the life of an illiterate Russian peasant woman between 1909 and 1921, focusing on her private life and major historic events in the country.


Andrey Smirnov


Andrey Smirnov
9 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Darya Ekamasova
Nina Ruslanova
Vladislav Abashin
Roman Madyanov
Vsevolod Shilovskiy
Evdokiya Germanova
Maksim Averin
Aleksey Serebryakov
Aleksey Alekseev Aleksey Alekseev
Lyudmila Larionova Lyudmila Larionova
Sergey Makarov
Egor Kleymenov Egor Kleymenov
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Vitaliy Abdulov Vitaliy Abdulov
Aleksandr Aravushkin Aleksandr Aravushkin
Aleksandr Borisov


A chronicle of the life of an illiterate Russian peasant woman between 1909 and 1921, focusing on her private life and major historic events in the country.

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Release Date:

27 October 2011 (Russia) See more »

Also Known As:

Zyla sobie baba See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Rekun Cinema See more »
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Technical Specs


| (TV)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Featured in Pod govor pyanyh muzhichkov (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Ethnographic and historic masterpiece
15 August 2015 | by shamrin-1See all my reviews

Tambov rebellion of 1920-1921, one of largest peasant rebellions against the Soviet Bolshevik regime. But very few people know about it, because official Soviet historians tried hard to distort and downplay the events. I think "Once Upon a Time There Lived a Simple Woman" (Жила-была одна баба) movie is the only attempt to tell the true story to a wide audience.

On the other hand, while Tambov rebellion is the reason for this movie to exist, we barely see the rebellion itself. Instead the movie tells the story of Russian peasant woman (baba) between 1909 and 1921, who happened to be living through it. And this life story is meticulously made. You could see the crew spent a lot of time making sure costumes, language, manners are as close to the period as possible. It's a unique ethnographic work. You could feel you are there.

(I hugely disagree with the other commentator who didn't like "dirt", "lust" and "sluts". Regarding "dirt", I think the commentator has never been even to modern peasant village in Russia, especially one without asphalt roads. I also disagree that the language peasants speak is an "awful pseudo-accent". I guess the commentator simply hasn't read classic Russian writers Ivan Bunin or Nikolai Leskov. In their works the so called "pseudo-accent" is the language peasants actually use. By the way, Leskov's novel "The Life of a Peasant Woman" (Житие одной бабы), which obviously influenced the movie name and idea, confirms not only the language, but also harsh brutality, that could be surprising for a modern eye. Finally, I haven't seen "sluts" in the movie. The heroine didn't even have sex before her marriage.)

For me the ethnographic part of the movie is enough to enjoy it, even if the story was crap. But it's not. It's a heart breaking love-during-turbulent-times story. Finally, it's very close to historic reality. E.g. depicted barbaric violence Bolshevik used against civilians, is well documented in numerous historic archive documents and memoirs.

The movie made a long lasting impression on me. It's a masterpiece.

Full disclosure: I'm Russian and my great-grandparents were violently deported during dekulakization (раскулачивание), about 10 years after the events of the movie. This could obviously influence my opinion. But I still believe anyone even mildly interested in Russian history would be impressed by the movie.

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