For the past couple of days, I've been watching this great Soviet mini-series called "Shadows Disappear at Noon." It was filmed in 1971 and it is a great example of the image of women cultivated in Soviet movies.
At the beginning of the series set in 1915, we see Maria, an illiterate day laborer who is a lover of a rich mill-owner and a mother of his illegitimate child. One day, the mill-owner and his buddies are making fun of Maria because of her marginalized social status. The mill-owner tells his friends that Maria loves him so much that he can make her do anything for him. To prove this point, he comes up to Maria and says: "If you go into the woods right now, armed with nothing but this small knife, and kill a bear for me and bring me his skin, I will finally marry you and give you my mill."
So Maria goes into the woods and reemerges after a while with a huge bear skin. "I'm so sorry for doing this, my dear," says the mill-owner. "Don't worry, now I'll marry you and you will be a co-owner of my mill." "I don't want your marriage, I don't want your mill, and I don't want you," responds Maria proudly. She leaves the village to become a factory worker in a big city and provide for her child. Later, she becomes politically active and turns into an inspirational leader. The mill-owner keeps following her around, begging her to give him a second chance.
In the rest of the mini-series, one can observe a curious ideological consistency: positive female characters are assertive, powerful, and head-strong. Negative female characters allow men to walk all over them.
This mini-series was one of the last examples of the long line of Soviet films that presented images of strong, assertive women as positive. By the end of the 70ies, characters like Maria started disappearing from the Soviet movie and TV screens to give way to sad, pathetic, weepy women, who feel that they have to deserve male attention at any cost.
P.S. In the episode I'm watching right now, a female character suspects that her neighbor is having an affair with her husband. She confronts her neighbor aggressively but the sisterhood wins almost immediately and both women ask each other for forgiveness and have a nice bonding moment. It's such a pleasure to watch a film that shows female solidarity as being way more important than fighting for a man's affection.