Irony of Fate

Special Holiday Screening Event!

December 26 - January 3, with bonus events Dec. 26 and Dec. 30

The online screening period has closed, but the film is available for viewing on YouTube. Recordings of our live discussions can be found below.

Just as films like It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story are essential holiday viewing for many American families, it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve in Russia without The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! In the opening act of this Soviet screwball comedy/love story from 1976, a man gives a taxi driver his address after a vodka-fueled night out with friends, unlocks the apartment door, goes in, and falls promptly asleep… in Leningrad, hundreds of miles away from his home in Moscow.

Key to the plot is the drab uniformity of Soviet architecture, furniture, and everyday things. By the 1970s, cities across the Soviet Union were filled with identical apartment buildings, featuring standardized furniture and objects, and even the same street names. The curious and absurd situations that the characters find themselves in reveal the particularities of Soviet daily life as shaped by the living environment.

While Irony of Fate has a strong undertone of social criticism, it is also a romantic comedy with a happy ending that addresses universal themes of love, betrayal, and friendship within the unique setting of the Soviet Union in the 1970s. One of the most successful Soviet television productions of all time, it serves as a testimony of an epoch and a lively illustration to the Zimmerli’s special exhibition Everyday Soviet.

The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!

(directed by Eldar Ryazanov, 1976, run time - part 1: 100 minutes; part 2: 84 minutes)Russian with English subtitles; screened with permission from Mosfilm

Live introduction: December 26 at 4pm on Zoom

In this conversation, our panelists offer introductory remarks on the film's context, its ties to our current exhibition "Everyday Soviet," and remembrances of life in the Soviet Union. Featuring Julia Tulovsky, Curator of Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art at the Zimmerli; Alexandra Sankova, Director of the Moscow Design Museum; and special guest, Thymen Kouwenaar, political counsellor at the Dutch Embassy in Moscow.

Live Q&A/discussion: December 30 at 4pm on Zoom

A discussion with Russian actor and director Evgeniy Tsymbal, who worked at Mosfilm and collaborated with Irony of Fate director Eldar Riazanov, and offers behind-the-scenes insights on the film. Also featuring Julia Tulovsky, Curator of Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art at the Zimmerli, and Alexandra Sankova, Director of the Moscow Design Museum.