The 1984 film Moscow on the Hudson was made in the final years of the Cold War thus had a certain responsibility to tell it's tale of a Russian defecting to America with a certain believability. Director Paul Mazursky, who also produced and co-wrote the film with Leon Capetanos, actually got the idea for the film from his own grandfather's emigration from Ukraine through Russia nearly 80 years before. In developing the script, the director contacted the Russian immigrant community and made his first trip to Russia. He noted the following during his trip:
"Most Russians, are just trying to survive. Yet, all Russians who leave their country leave behind something they treasure and love. It's a terrible conflict for them, so the act of bravery is overwhelming."
Because it offered him full control over an authentic "Eastern European street", Mazursky settled on Munich, based on the flexibility of Bavaria Studios, after considering many locations for the Moscow portion of the film. In addition, Robin Williams went above and beyond to realistically play the defecting lead character Vladimir Ivanov. To believably play a saxophonist with the Moscow circus, Williams both learned Russian for the film in a crash course and also learned to play the saxophone. Stay tuned!