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 Eldar Ryazanov

Russian film director


Eldar Ryazanov is an outstanding Soviet and Russian film director, one of the classics of national cinema and a master of lyrical and satirical comedy and tragicomedy. His films are well-known and popular all over the former USSR.

Eldar Aleksandrovich Ryazanov was born in Samara on 18th November 1927. The family then moved to Moscow. His father was subjected to repression and Eldar’s mother had to take care of the boy alone. Since early childhood the future famous film director was crazy about reading books and dreamed of becoming a writer. In 1950 he graduated the Director's Faculty of VGIK (the All-Union Institute of Cinema), where he studied under G. Kozintsev. In 1950–1955 he worked at the Central Studio of Children’s Films as the director of newsreels and several documentaries. Starting from 1955 he worked as a film director at Mosfilm Studio.

Ryazanov created his first full-length feature film Carnival Night (1956) in the genre of a musical comedy-revue, however the satirical characters (namely the director of the club Ogurtsov played by Igor Ilyinsky and the Lecturer played by Sergei Filippov) turned to be true discoveries of this sparkling comedy. The film did not only head the list of box-office hits of 1956, but became an integral part of the “gold fund” of Russian cinema. It was this brilliant comedy that discovered the new film star Lyudmila Gurchenko for viewers.

Ryazanov’s following work – the lyrical comedy Girl Without an Address (1957) – again became a smash-hit. His attempt to integrate elements of fantasy and frank clowning into the comedy plot in Man from Nowhere displeased Soviet film censors: the adventures of the fanciful savage (played by Sergei Yursky) in modern Moscow were accused of being “senseless stunting” and “vulgarity”, and so the film actually remained inaccessible to viewers. The historical musical comedy Hussar Ballad was luckier and gained extreme popularity. The period of Eldar Ryazanov’s creative maturity was marked by his collaboration with the script writer Emil Braginskiy. The first fruit of the union of two talented comedy dramatists was the detective comedy < i> Beware of the Car (1966). The comic story about a selfless thief of cars was raised to the level of a topical comedy with satirical and lyrical motives, whereas its characters (first of all the lead - Yury Detochkin played by Innokenti Smoktunovsky) and reprises gained cult significance. Ryazanov has showed how varied his comedy talent is: Old Men: Robbers (1973), Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia (1974), The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! (1975), Office Romance (1977), Garage (1979).

The lyricism of Ryazanov’s comedies, their gentle humour, not without a philosophical tint, also found expression in the sound tracks – melodies and songs, the lyrics to which he started to write himself. Starting from the lyrical Station for Two (1982) Ryazanov’ films acquired tragicomic intonations, with the main characters becoming more lyrical or even tragic (for example, pianist Platon Gromov in Station for Two , Karandyshev in A Cruel Romance (1984), the writer in The Prophecy (1993)). In his comedies on the subject of Perestroika ( A Forgotten Tune for the Flute (1988), Promised Heaven (1991)) and post-Soviet reality ( Old Hags (2000)) Ryazanov strongly emphasizes the theme of social outsiders – kind and decent people, who are gifted in their own way but who have found themselves on the roadside of modern life with its wild market laws.

Eldar Ryazanov is no less popular than his characters; the fact was greatly promoted by his long-term experience as the host of the popular telecast “Kinopanorama” (from 1979 to 1985) and a number of other TV programs.

Eldar Ryazanov has also established himself as a writer and playwright; he is the co-author of many of his films and the author of several plays.


Tags: Eldar Ryazanov Russian directors Comedy Biography Russian cinema 

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