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 Oleg Dal

Born:   25 May 1941
Deceased:   03 March 1981



Oleg Dal was one of the brightest and the most contradictive figures of the Soviet theatre and cinema. Merry and withdrawn, unprotected and haughty, he never got a title of honour and did not live long enough to do everything he could. Yet he was a true Actor. Oleg Dal acted brilliantly in a wide range of films, from classics to fairy tales and adventures.

Oleg Ivanovich Dal was born on May 25, 1941 in Lyublino (Moscow region) into the family of an eminent railway engineer and a teacher. In 1959 he entered the Shchepkin Theatre School and became a student of Boris Babochkin and Nikolai Annenkov.

His first cinema work was the role of Alik Kramer in Aleksandr Zarkhi’s movie Moy mladshiy brat (My Younger Brother) (1962) in which Oleg Dal played an intellectual youth, the hero of the 1960s. In 1967 Vladimir Motyl offered Dal the role of Zhenya Kolyshkin in the film Zhenya, Zhenechka i 'Katyusha' (1967).

Zhenya, Zhenechka i 'Katyusha' (1967)
      “It was one of those rare cases when an actor emerged as if from imagination which had already sketched the character” – the film director recollected later. August 21, 1967 saw the premiere of the feature, which was a real success with the viewers. Yet, the film did not reach a vast audience, since its distribution was allowed only in the provinces.

An important stage in Oleg Dal’s creative life was playing Yevgeni Sobolevski in the film Khronika pikiruyushchego bombardirovshchika (Chronicles of a Dive-Bomber) (1967) by Naum Birman. The charming image of the smart fellow created by Dal made the 27 year-old actor one of the most popular personas of Soviet cinema.


Staraya, staraya skazka (1970)
      The role of Puppeteer and Soldier in Staraya, staraya skazka (A Very Old Story) (1970) by Nadezhda Kosheverova added to the viewer’s love of magnetic Oleg Dal. In the same year the actor surprised the public with the role of Vas’ka Pepel in Mikhail Gorky’s play Na Dne (The Lower Depths) staged by Galina Volchek in Sovremennik Theatre. Dal saw a person in the thief. His original unexpected interpretation showed Vas’ka Pepel as a single impetuous rush towards happiness and beauty.

Another remarkable role was the Fool in Korol Lir (King Lear) (1969) directed by Grigori Kozintsev. The character was created from sharp angles utterly: the bald skull, protruding ears, and hollow cheeks. His eyes are tragic and wise; instead of a jester’s motley he is wearing shabby sackcloth. His task is not to entertain but to harrow feelings.

Ten' (1971)
     In 1971 Oleg Dal starred in Nadezhda Kosheverova’s film Ten (Shadow) (1971) playing two roles, the Teacher and his Shadow, at once. From 1974 Sovremennik showed four productions with him, whereas the stage play Princess and Lumberman was the debut work of Oleg Dal as a director.

In 1975 Anatoli Efros gave Oleg Dal an opportunity to realize the latter’s long-standing dream by offering him a role in the TV play Po stranicam zhurnala Pechorina (Through Pages of Pechorin’s Diary). The meeting with Anatoli Efros again brought Dal back to the theatre: he played a number of roles in Theatre Na Maloy Bronnoi. In 1977 the actor starred as Sergey in Efros’s film V chetverg i bolshe nikogda (On Thursday and Never Again) (1977). Their last joint work was the feature Ostrova v okeane (Islands in the Ocean) (1978).

“He was an exceptionally elevated person. He was very tough, the toughness hiding utter subtlety and fragility” - Anatoli Efros told about the actor.

The release of Otpusk v sentyabre (Vacations in September) (1979) (directed by Vitali Melnikov after Aleksandr Vampilov’s play Utinaya Okhota (Duck Hunting)) was a remarkable event in Dal’ creative destiny. Dal’s character is a highly gifted person able to write splendid poems and compose talented songs. Yet, from the very beginning of the film the hero knows he is destined to die soon. Oleg Dal played his last cinema role in Nezvany Drug (Uninvited Friend) by L. Maryagin in 1981.

After the death of his friend Vladimir Vysotsky, Dal started thinking about death more and more. He wrote in his diary in October 1980: “I often think about death. Futility dispirits me. But I want to fight, to fight violently. If I leave, then I leave furiously fighting. With all my might to try to say everything I have thought about. The point is to do it!"

Oleg Dal also wrote beautiful verses that were put down and preserved in his diaries and personal correspondence. He had no titles or awards, he was not a laureate, but he was an Actor. The actor, poet and rebel Oleg Dal died on March 3, 1981 in Kiev. He was laid to rest in Vagankovskoe Cemetery in Moscow.


Tags: Russian cinema Russian actors Oleg Dal   

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