Writer Martin Kessler takes over The Pink Smoke with his five part series on Russian director Aleksei German, a titan of le cinema who is surprising obscure in the West.

Join us as Kessler explores the filmmaker's career, step by step: from medieval sci-fi to Soviet noir to wartime romance - German's body of work is brilliantly wild and unpredictable.



~ martin kessler ~

“I don’t know, it gives me a tummy ache.” That’s the final line spoken in Hard to Be a God. It’s what a peasant says when asked if they like the jazz music being played.

“I don’t know, it gives me a tummy ache,” was also my answer to my friend Sia when she asked if I liked the movie, as we walked out of the mostly empty Bloor Cinema and into the bright warm daylight in May of 2015.

It was an uncanny experience. I had never seen a film quite like it, but it also felt familiar, like some artifact from an age when giants with names like Kurosawa, Tarkovsky, and Welles still roamed the Earth.

It was as perfect an ode to misery as I had ever seen, with any potential for base cinematic pleasure expertly scooped out of its sci-fi medieval world. It was like Marketa Lazarová gone rancid. It was overwhelming, but also completely mesmerizing, and I rarely blinked during the film’s nearly three hour runtime.

I was full of questions.

Why are characters so casually breaking the fourth wall?

What filmmaker would costume and choreograph an army of extras for what should be a grand shot, only to heavily obscure that shot by having pigeons fly directly in front of the lens?

Is it supposed to be funny that a scene begins with a close-up of donkey schlong?

It’s a rare thing, to go out an see a new movie in the theatre, with only vague expectations, and to subsequently be truly challenged as a film viewer.

I don’t know, it gives me a tummy ache. That ambivalent final line made me feel as if my own ambivalence was a totally fine first reaction. It gave me the confidence to return to the film. I wanted to try to understand what I had seen, and to understand where it had come from. I wanted to carefully form a more definite opinion by the time I’d circle back to that ending.

Even before I found out that it was a film that had been gestating for nearly half a century, I think I could tell. It was a film that I knew needed to exist somehow.

Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but films like that simply don’t emerge from a vacuum. It just felt like the culmination of... something.

I felt as if I were a little Voyager-like spacecraft that had passed into an alien solar system, of which Hard to Be a God was simply one planet. A gas giant perhaps, but there would be other planets too. Films and figures seemed to all be spinning about, and at their centre was Aleksei German.

Aleksei Yurievich German (Hard-G, pronounced a little like “Grrr-man”, and I apologize in advance for any Deutsche confusion). I have an ache of guilt for only finding out about him after his death, but I was happy to find that all of his films were not too difficult to come by, and that there was quite a bit of information about him out there (though very very spread out and occasionally contradictory). In interviews and behind-the-scenes footage he comes across sharply intelligent; Full of anecdotes, observations, theories, and ideas. Someone with a dark outlook, but also a sense of humour. German would also frequently use ‘we’ when talking about making his films, referring to his wife Svetlana Karmalita who would co-write and produce most of them.

“His favourite pastime was to lay on the couch and think. It was not always easy to understand him,” Karmalita said of her husband. In addition to a handful of films, they’d also produce a son, Aleksei Alekseivich German (usually called in English, Aleksei German Jr.). 1 It’s Karmalita and German Jr. who completed Hard to Be God (from what I understand mostly its sound edit and mix) when German died near the end of post-production in 2013.

Aleksei German emerged from a generation of especially talented Soviet filmmakers, and is often discussed as the best of them. In certain rarefied film circles there’s an ongoing conversation as to who is the greatest of all Russian filmmakers, Aleksei German or Andrei Tarkovsky? I’m not sure how productive that argument is, as each filmmaker highly regarded the other, and their films compliment each other quite well; German as the corporeal Yin to the mystical Yang of Tarkovsky.

German managed to be slightly less prolific than Andrei Tarkovsky over a much longer career, though that’s not due to lack of trying. In part, the reason why he made so few films is because of the many many uphill battles each film would face in being realized. He would encounter censorship and be officially fired from Lenfilm three times (and never officially rehired on in the interims). After the collapse of the Soviet Union he developed a reputation as something of a Russian Orson Welles for not only his filmmaking ability but also the financial difficulties his productions would face, shooting them bit by bit over several years.

Another reason why he made so few films was because of his meticulous process. German’s accumulation of research and obstinate attention to detail would undoubtedly have made Stanley Kubrick blush. I think that extreme attention to detail was necessary because historicity is key to German’s films. All of his films with one notable exception are set in the past, and even his science fiction film could be said to be an extrapolation of history. His films shouldn’t be mistaken for nostalgia trips though. I’ve heard somewhere that, the most Russian of all emotions is nostalgia, and if that’s at all the case then German’s films might be taken as an antidote to nostalgia. Through an elaborate and idiosyncratic style, the gloomy epochs in his films hold an intense vividness and weight of truth.

With that in mind, I want to go back to the beginning...


Aleksei German’s mother was a doctor, and supposedly when she became pregnant out of wedlock, she tried to have him aborted. It was a crime, so she resorted to an unreliable method.

The abortion didn’t take, and so Aleksei German was born in Leningrad at the peak of Stalin’s reign of terror, in 1938. German would say that, “I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel at the end when most do, rather my life began with it... Ever since I felt like I’m being gotten rid of.”

While Andrei Tarkovsky’s father was a prominent poet, Aleksei German’s father, Yuri German, was a similarly prominent novelist and journalist. A number of his books were fairly popular.

Yuri German was especially proud of having written the screenplays for several films. They’re in the social realist style with strong communist messages, but there’s often a flair of pulp intrigue or adventure to them too. The most popular of them was probably The Brave Seven, which was released in 1936.

Yuri German was also a periphery figure of the communist elite. He was even invited to dine with Stalin on two occasions. On his father’s association with Stalin in the 1930s, Aleksei German would say, “The most embarrassing thing is that he adored Stalin then. Was in full delight. He said that he had not met a more charming person.” Aleksei German would have a complex relationship with his father, being both greatly creatively inspired and supported by him, while also being critical of his father’s perspectives and artistry.

German was sickly as a child and partly because of that he was homeschooled until about the age of ten. Another reason for his homeschooling was that during the Second World War, German fled with his family to Arkhangelsk and then later to Murmansk, where German’s father would be stationed as a war correspondent with the Northern Fleet. They’re in the arctic, but the gulf stream keeps them from freezing over. There German’s family would be largely untouched by conflict (unlike Leningrad where hundreds of thousands died of starvation alone during the 900-day siege on the city). Here’s German with his father, posing with the captain of a destroyer ship in 1942:

German considered his time in Arkhangelsk to be happy days as a child, spending his afternoons reading exciting books like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and coming away with many strong memories including finding a helmet in a barn that had a skull in it. Occasionally there would be foreigners who came with the Arctic convoys; like the black American Navy sailors whom flirted with the local women and went dancing on an ice rink with them, and who little German would teach useful Russian phrases to. German also remembered his father, and the famous war journalist and poet Konstantin Simonov, rushing to interview a British airplane pilot, who told them, “I will tell you, even though you will not publish, because this does not correspond to your Marxist-Leninist teachings. The fact is that I'm a lord, and my co-pilot is my servant. I arrive, he makes me hot cocoa and puts me to bed." Apparently this shocked German’s father, but not Simonov. Aleksei German would one day collaborate artistically with the journalist/poet (I promise I’m not just throwing names out to confuse you). Here’s a photo of Simonov smoking his pipe, on the barrel of a tank:

German would also be introduced to cinema in Arkhangelsk. He said the the first film he ever saw was the animated Disney version of Pinocchio. It was screened in English, not dubbed into Russian. Little German would become so upset by the grotesque images of growing noses and donkey ears, that he had to be taken out of the screening before the end of the film.

After the war, German’s father found himself in some political trouble (apparently for “suspiciously laudatory articles” about another author who had fallen out of favour). All of Yuri German’s publishers immediately broke relations with him, and severe repression seemed a very real possibility. During that time Aleksei German was sent to spend the summer of 1946 staying with his father’s acquaintances; Evgeny Schwartz and his wife Ekaterina Zilber, or Katya for short. Schwartz was an author and a playwright who was critical of the communist regime. He was best known for his fairy tales, and would become recognized for his use of allegory to bypass censorship. Here’s Evgeny & Katya:

Schwartz would read his fairy tales to the young Aleksei German, and it seems that Schwartz left a lifelong impression on him. German would forever be fond of speaking in ‘Schwartz-isms’, a use of allegorical phrasing to express prickly sentiments or ideas. As an adult German would also write the introduction to a collection of Schwartz’ scripts, and at one point tried to adapt one of Schwartz’ most famous plays into a film.

As German grew older he became increasingly aware of the terror of life in the USSR. Things like his parents’ friends who would disappear forever, or a classmate who went mad when his whole family was arrested. There were terrible things even within his own home, like his parent’s housekeeper girl named Nadya who slept in the kitchen or on boards over their bathtub, and lived under the threat of being being sent back to the country where she would have nothing to eat. “It was a form of slavery,” German would say plainly about her situation in their home.

School for German was miserable. Even though he was big for his age, his schoolmates would pick on him, pinch him, call him a “mangabey” which is a type of monkey. They would beat him up for his Jewish heritage. German described the attitude of schoolchildren then as, “If you were strong and pugnacious, you were Russian. If frightened and fat, you were a Jew. Regardless of whether you were an Ivanov or a Rappaport.”

Life at school improved for German after he began taking boxing lessons. Boxing was the first profession he aspired to. He described an incident with a bully not long after he started his lessons; “Running away, I turned around and hit, most likely unintentionally, a boy named Puzynya. Fist in the forehead. The boy screamed, and he immediately began to grow a huge blue cone. The boy was taken to the clinic. After class, I was asked where I hid the brass knuckles. I said that I don’t have brass knuckles, I'm just a boxer.” Even though he says he was never respected, the incident at least discouraged further bullying. It wasn’t until later on that German found out that the bully Puzynya had a condition in which even a very weak blow would cause his forehead to bruise and swell.

Despite his lack of interest in school, German was studious and especially loved history. He’d even find some encouragement from a well-respected scholar of the Soviet Union’s Asian people’s medieval history, with German recalling, “I met an old man in a black suit with dandruff on his shoulders and a huge grey beard. I had a long walk with him and we talked. He told me about some miracles from the world of history. It was a long time until I found out who he was. Papa asked me: Did you dine with Orbeli? It was Joseph Orbeli, the former director of the Hermitage! I often remember him, not because he was an academician, but because he respected me.” There’s one film project in German’s body of work in particular that I suspect grew from a kernel of interest planted by Orbeli’s miracles of the world of history.

As a teenager, dreams of being a boxer were left behind and German found himself on course to becoming a doctor. From about the age of fifteen he had been visiting the Medical Institute, writing essays about plagues and “rummaging through corpses and learning where’s the liver, and where’re the kidneys.” German could be wonderfully, deliberately non-scientific when discussing anything medical.

At age sixteen, after the death of Stalin, German decided to leave behind that potential medical career in order to pursue film. This was at a time when Soviet film production had become extremely limited and had shrunk down to a trickle. There were only five Soviet films produced in 1952, the year prior to Stalin’s death, and only six produced in 1954 when German made his decision to become a filmmaker. His parents told him that they wouldn’t help, though German’s father encouraged his decision. Yuri German had also already made some filmmaking connections for his son, and had perhaps always fostered an interest in cinema. Despite his (by then disillusioned) devotion to Soviet values and strong ties to Soviet film, Yuri German privately admired Western films.

Aleksei German mentioned that his father loved David Lean dramas and John Ford westerns, adding, “He had good taste in pictures.”

Unlike most aspiring filmmakers there and then, German did not enrol in the Moscow Film School. He said of that decision, “I don't know what you can teach for four years. I know that students are taught Marxism, political economy, and so on. I know that there are many directors who are graduates, but the percentage of talented people is not very high. And at the same time they all lose the chance to practice an intermediate profession, such as working as an assistant director, or second unit director. This is important, too... I didn't feel that I needed film school.” German instead attended the prestigious Bolshoi Drama Theatre. On his entrance exam, German wrote that the only honest Soviet film was the 1947 version of Cinderella. 2 That version of Cinderella was written by Evgeny Schwartz.

It may sound fairly innocuous, but that particular version of Cinderella has become famous for its ‘caustic satirical undertones’. It’s interesting that while most of his films would be rooted in historical reality, German would often utilize a Schwartz-like use of subtext, and end his career with a film that in a certain light might be regarded as a particularly dark allegorical fairy tale, Hard to Be a God.

At the Bolshoi Drama Theatre, German directed a production of Schwartz’ play The Ordinary Miracle. He’d also adapt and direct Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, and would observe that the audience was interested in the theatre cat that wondered out onto the stage and scratched the assistant who appeared from a hatch to take it away, more than anything in the actual play.

German developed a love of authentic props, and on one infamous occasion startled an audience by having an actor use a real machine gun that fired blanks on stage without any warning.

German studied under the famous theatre director Georgy Tovstonogov, and after graduating he became Tovstonogov’s assistant. German would learn much from Tovstonogov, but also say of that apprenticeship, “I understood that I shouldn't work with him, because I could guess what he wanted from me. So I learned how to suggest something that would be accepted. And I think that means death for a director.” After an incident where a beautiful young woman flirted with German only for him to realize that she thought he was Tovstonogov, German decided it was time to move on and step out of Tovstonogov’s shadow.

German would go on to study under Grigori Kozintsev. Kozintsev himself is an interesting figure. He had a background in experimental theatre, and today he is best known for his Russian language film adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and King Lear, but those venerable films had yet to be made when German worked with him. German respected him, though hinted that he could take himself too seriously.

At that time Kozintsev would have been best known for directing the Maxim Trilogy, a film series made in the 1930s about a man’s journey from being an exploited factory worker to becoming a Red Army warrior. They were highly regarded at the time, but not nearly as interesting as the films Kozintsev would make when he had more artistic freedom. German had some personal connection to him too, since Kozintsev had directed a film written by German’s father, Pirogov, which was made in 1947. However, I strongly suspect that German would have been most interested in working with Kozintsev for his 1957 Don Quixote film which had been released just prior to German studying with him. 3 The screenplay for it was of course written by none other than Evgeny Schwartz.

The highlight of the film is, as you can probably guess, the windmill scene, which had a not-so-young Nikolay Cherkasov (who had starred as Alexander Nevsky, and Ivan the Terrible in Sergei Eisenstein’s films) held by a hidden harness to one sail of a windmill and spun 360 degrees. He seems to be holding on for dear life during that shot. There are some shades of and references to Don Quixote in German’s later projects.

Around that time German also began finding regular work on films. His first job on a film was as a production assistant, wrangling rats on a film written by his father, the medical-themed war drama, My Dear Fellow, which was directed by Iosif Kheifits and released in 1958.

That kicked-off a period of time in which German had the opportunity to work with and learn from a number of experienced filmmakers. This was during the Khrushchev thaw, when there was a bit more artistic freedom and leeway to experiment, and to criticize the regime. Through his early-twenties, German developed a reputation as someone especially adept at choreographing background detail, collecting B-roll and second unit footage, and directing extras and actors in small roles. All of that put him in high demand as a second unit director.

By 1965 German had worked his way up to assistant director on Vladimir Vengerov’s The Workers' Settlement. It’s a sprawling, realist drama that’s mostly about a blinded war veteran trying to piece together a life for himself, and who endures the hardships of Stalinism. It’s an impressive film. Vengerov has mostly been forgotten now (apparently even in Russia), but at one time was one of the most highly regarded filmmakers of his time. Knowing German’s role in making the film, all you have to do to see the emerging filmmaker is to look to the backgrounds, the props, the extras, and anything else that might not be the main focus of the film.

aleksei german, 1967.

Eventually German was given the opportunity to direct his own (though not entirely his own) feature film, The Seventh Companion. The title is also sometimes translated as The Seventh Satellite, and it was based on a novel by Boris Lavrenyov. 4 It’s a story set during The Red Terror.

German described his intent with the films as, “to prove that the beginning of many troubles of our life did not begin in 1935, as many people think, but in 1919. Many big, painful problems started right then. So the film showed how hostages were taken from different classes, including generals of the Tsar's army. And they were sitting and waiting. They were not guilty of anything. Their guilt was that they belonged to a certain class. From time to time, some of them were chosen and then just killed.” It’s perhaps worth mentioning that German’s grandfather was an officer on the white side during the Civil War.

The film follows a Tsarist professor and military lawyer named Adamov. He’s someone who had dedicated himself to the rule of law, seeing his nation descend into lawlessness. The Bolsheviks imprison him in a mansion along with a number of other Tsarists during the Red Terror. They’re men who are “shuffling into oblivion”. Some of the prisoners talk about making appeals as they’ve done nothing wrong, but there’s no one to appeal to.

When a senator and knight asks for beds, the Bolshevik warden tells him that “your type doesn’t deserve beds….you’ll sleep in shit.” Adamov speaks up for the warden to keep the argument from escalating, and for that the warden rewards him with the position of ‘cell monitor’. It sets Adamov apart from the other imprisoned aristocrats. When one Tsarists says to Adamov that he will be the first to be held criminally accountable for going along with the Bolsheviks, Adamov retorts with “Powers make laws, not the other way around.”

At one point Adamov is called from a lineup. He think it’s so that he’ll be taken away and shot, but it turns out it’s only so that he can read the list of names of the Tsarists who are to be taken away and shot that day. He tries to get out of it, but with a little pressure goes through with it all the same. One aristocrat breaks down, not wanting to die, so the warden has him beaten before being dragged off to be killed.

Eventually Adamov is called before a hearing, where one of his legal decisions from 1905 is brought up. He’s not sure what the relevance of it is to his situation, but it turns out that the committee views Adamov’s legal position on that particular case as proof that he’s always been in favour of the proletariat, so they release him from the prison-mansion.

Adamov returns to his old home, only to find it now houses several families, with no room for him. With all his letters and the portrait of his wife burned, he asks if he can take an antique ornate clock with him. It becomes a symbol he can latch onto, of a lost era of civility.

Adamov is a bit like Rip Van Winkle, trying to find a place in the newly communist society that has moved on and has no need for him. Adamov ends up working as a washer, but a Red Army officer takes note of him and decides he can make use of him.

Adamov becomes the officer’s assistant and throws in with the Bolsheviks. He even wears a budenovka cap, though he still manages to look out of place.

Maybe it’s the way he looks around nervously, or the aristocratically trimmed beard and waxed moustache?

Adamov accompanies the officer to the front, where they investigate and prosecute civilians who may be assisting the White Army. Adamov has reservations about the lack of due process. “We’re fighting for the Revolution, the only law is to defeat our enemy,” the officer tells Adamov when the decision is made to execute a peasant based on suspicion alone.

Eventually Adamov finds himself captured by the White Army. When they discover who he is, they apologize for thinking he was just another Bolshevik, calling him “your grace”. Adamov uses an allegory to explain how he came to side with the Bolsheviks, ”When a large body passes through space, smaller bodies are drawn into its orbit.”

Adamov is given a chance to join the Whites, but he refuses, and for that he is shot as a traitor and left dead in the snow next to a Bolshevik friend.

With hindsight, it’s quite an inauspicious debut for German. That’s largely due to the fact that he had to share the director’s chair with a veteran filmmaker, Grigori Aronov. Aronov was fifteen years older than German and had been directing since the 1950s, and was artistically very set in his ways. Though credited as co- director, German’s position on the film might not be considered much more than a glorified assistant director. It’s surprising that for the reputation for great stubbornness that German would go on to cultivate, he admits to being a pushover in making The Seventh Companion. German would say that, “The Seventh Companion was a catastrophe because two different people were making a film from two points of view. At a certain moment, I had to submit to him. Otherwise, we wouldn't have anything at all. I understood that I had to be patient. I felt like an old, unliked husband.”

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call The Seventh Companion a disaster per se, I just think that it’s muddled and mediocre. Maybe that’s worse.

Some of the ways German had to compromise his original intent are pretty glaring. For instance, the film begins with a very awkward prologue that frames The Red Terror as a justified response to ‘The White Terror’.

Still, rays of brilliance shine through the smog of Soviet realist conventionality, and with a bit of foreknowledge you can see that there are a few of German’s themes and motifs and pet narrative beats emerging, though muted. For instance his soft spot for the people who were left in the dust of history or erased by revisionism, the interest in the ‘inconvenient’ stories from history, his typical antihero protagonist who observes the world around them torn apart by opposing forces while struggling to remain neutral, and also German’s fascination with the emotional significance of objects and artifacts. Even German’s interest in an otherworldly, othertimely science fiction project may even be foreshadowed in a few lines as well. There’s a brief scene in which an aristocrat remarks that the day is the anniversary of Tolstoy’s birth. A Bolshevik asks “who’s that?” The aristocrat replies melancholically, “That was then. Another century. Another planet.”

German had intended to portray Bolshevism very much like a new religion with violent zeal. That incendiary perspective, seems to have largely been buried in the final product, with only a few hints here and there, but really only one scene directly makes that correlation. In the scene, Adamov’s Bolshevik friend asks Adamov if there’s a god. Adamov tells him that as a Bolshevik he’s not supposed to believe in god. “I know, but it’s kind of hard without God all of a sudden,” the friend says and then mentions how even though priests may support the wealthy, they’re people too which makes them fallible to sin, with the use of ‘sin’ specifically referencing wealth.

There are a handful of visual flourishes too. Every now and again you have an interesting twirl of the camera, or particularly elaborate bit of choreography like a chicken flying into a White Army general as he makes his big entrance.

It’s exciting to pick out the little hints of ambition and creativity buried under all the film’s typicalness, but I think The Seventh Companion is perhaps best watched with the same sort of reserved judgment that one might have while watching any student film of a great director.

I know that at one point German and his wife Karmalita considered remaking The Seventh Companion, or at least creating a new film inspired by the same events, as they thought the story had still yet to be told properly. Unfortunately that would never come to pass, and it seems that that aspect of The Red Terror still remains fertile ground for filmmakers to explore.

The Seventh Companion at least got German’s foot in the door and became a stepping stone to greater opportunities. It seems the thing he learned most from his experience making The Seventh Companion was that he shouldn’t compromise himself artistically again.

Reflecting on that first stage of his filmmaking career, German would say, “I bore a stigma of talentlessness.”


~ JUNE 5, 2018 ~
1 Out of respect, I didn’t want to lump Aleksei German Jr. too much into this overview of his father’s work, but I’ll elaborate a bit on him here for those interested.
I always appreciate it when a filmmaking child of a great filmmaker can draw on their parent as an influence while still maintaining a cinematic voice of their own, and not simply lean on their parent’s accomplishments. That appreciation may double when the person in question has a ‘Jr.’ in their name, and I think this is the case with German Jr.
Aleksei German Jr. was born in 1976, and unlike his father, he attended film school proper, enrolling in the Moscow Film School (VKIG). Today he’s already made as many film as his father had, and has been gaining attention for being one of the more interesting filmmakers of his generation. He’s also married to one of his collaborators, costume designer Elena Okopnaya.
The two films of German Jr.’s that I’ve seen so far, Paper Soldier and Under Electric Clouds, are both thoughtfully and skillfully made. They may reflect some of the choreography and interest in Russian history that can be found in his father’s films, but diverge from them in their style, aesthetics, and generational touchstones.
Paper Soldier is about an emotionally isolated doctor caught up in a love triangle, while working with doomed cosmonauts during the early days of the Soviet space program in rural Kazakhstan.
Under Electric Clouds is a very low-key science fiction film. Released in 2016, it’s set in 2017 and shows a wide variety of characters and scenarios meant to reflect on the past one hundred years of Russian history, and consider what may repeat itself in the future. In pace and atmosphere it’s closer to a Theo Angelopoulos film, than any of German Jr.’s father’s films.
German Jr. has a new film, Dovatlov, which was just released. I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently it’s about the writer and journalist Sergei Dovlatov (who nearly starred in one of German Jr.’s father’s films), before his American exile. German Jr. would also work much more quickly than his father, completing shooting of Dovatlov in a brisk sixty-one days. Apparently it’s a bit of a breakout hit, often described as funny, sexy, and intelligent by critics, and earning more in what was initially supposed to be a limited four-day release, than what Andrey Zvyagintsev’s recent Academy Award nominated film Loveless had in its entire lengthy run. Netflix recently purchased the rights to it, so there’s some speculation that it may be German Jr.’s proper introduction to Western film watchers.
2 Not exactly relevant to anything, but I just wanted to point out that actress Yanina Zhejmo was 38 when she played teenage Cinderella. She was only five years younger than the actor who plays the old king who becomes her father-in- law by the end of the film. Yanina Zhejmo had been acting steadily since the silent era, though Cinderella would be her penultimate live action film role. She’d also lend her voice to one of the most famous Soviet animated films, The Snow Queen, which would be released in 1957. After that she’d retire from acting and move to Poland with her husband.
3 I haven’t seen Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote yet, but at this moment the best film version of Don Quixote I’ve seen is Albert Serra’s minimalist interpretation, Honor of the Knights. It’s like seeing Don Quixote pushed through a mould in the shape of Tarkovsky’s Stalker.
4 Boris Lavrenyov also wrote The Forty-First, a sort of Romeo & Juliet story set during the Russian Civil War, about a Red sniper and White officer who fall in love, but of course it’s a doomed love. It was twice adapted into a film; first in 1926, but without a doubt the better loved of the two is the 1956 colour version directed by Grigory Chukhrai before he went on to make Ballad of a Soldier.