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 Vasili Shukshin

Born:   25 July 1925
Deceased:   02 October 1974

Writer, Film Director, Actor


The name of Vasili Shukshin seems to be known in Russia to everyone. The unmistakable style of the writer, film director and actor conquered the generation of the 1970s with its originality, sincerity, wisdom and power. The works and personality of Vasili Shukshin stand out till date and still speak live to us.

Vasili Makarovich Shukshin was born on July 25, 1929 in a peasant family, in the village of Srostki, Altay region. In 1949-1953 he served in the navy as a sailor and returned home after demobilization because of illness. For some time he studied and then worked as a teacher of literature and Russian language at school and a school director. In 1954-1960 Shukshin studied at the film direction faculty of VGIK (All-Union State Institute of Cinematography).

When Vasili Shukshin arrived at VGIK, the institute teachers were afraid to matriculate him: they thought his love for truth was risky for them and they could once loose their job because of him. However, film director Mikhail Romm believed in him.

At the exam Shukshin could not answer Romm's question about Tolstoy's novel "War and Peace" explaining it by the fact that there was no time to read such a thick book. Romm frowned and wondered how such a non-cultured person could be a school director. Shukshin got offended and started shouting at the examiner: "Do you know what it is like to be a school director? First you sweat the firewood for the school out of the kolkhoz chairman, and then chop the wood so that the kids won't be cold. Scrounge the books, mend the desks, and settle the teachers. The car is on four hooves with a tail and you try to get it. Chop-chop here and there, and through the mud How can one get down to books!" Other examiners were happy: Shukshin hectored Romm and would be kicked away. But Romm said instead: "Only a very talented person can have such non-traditional views. I give him an excellent mark."

Shukshin and his family; filming a scene for Pechki-Lavochki(1972)

During his studies in VGIK Shukshin played his first main role in Hutsiev's film "Dva Fyodora"(aka The Two Fedors)in 1958 and published his first short story "Dvoe Na Telege" (The Two on a Horse Wagon) in the magazine Smena.

Shukshin's first book "Village Dwellers" was published in 1963. In this year also he started working on the Gorky film studio. He directed his first movie based on his own script "Zhivyot Takoi Paren" (aka There Is Such a Lad) in 1965. The film took two awards, in Venice and in Leningrad (St.-Petersburg) and brought fame to Shukshin.

Vasili's widow Lidia Fedoseyeva-Shukshina recollects: "Once I and our daughters visited my husband in the hospital, and he met us with tears in his eyes. I ask him: "What's happened?" and he gives me a notebook "Here. I've written. But not now. Afterwards, at home." I wept while reading it. The telephone rang. I took the receiver but couldn't speak because of tears. He asks faintly: "Well, shall we film it?"

That was the script of Kalina Krasnaya.

Shukshin in Kalina Krasnaya (1973)

The film Kalina Krasnaya (aka The Red Snowball Tree) released in 1974 came as a mind-blow: there had been nothing of the kind in domestic cinema before. The story of a former prisoner who decides to break with the criminal world and live a peaceful country life holds a firm place in the gold Russian cinematography, as well as the majority of movies with Shukshin's participation.

Vasili Shukshin died on October 2, 1974 during the filming of "Oni Srazhalis Za Rodinu" (aka They Fought for Their Country) of a heart attack. There are some suspicions he was poisoned.

The creative potential of Vasili Shukshin was boundless; he managed to implement lots of his bright ideas. You can judge yourself after watching his movies.


Vasili Shukshin 1958 - Dva Fyodora(aka The Two Fedors), actor
1959 - Zolotoy Eshelon (aka The Golden Eshelon), actor
1960 - Prostaya Istoria, (aka Simple Story), actor
1961 - Alenka, actor
1961 - Kogda Derevia Byli Bolshimi (aka When the Trees Were Tall), actor
1961 - Komandirovka (aka Mission)
1961 - Mishka, Serega and I, actor
1962 - My, Dvoe Muzhchin (aka We, Two Men), actor
1964 - Zhivet Takoy Paren (aka There Is Such a Lad), film-director, scriptwriter
1964 - Kakoe Ono, More? (What Is It Like, The Sea?), actor
1965 - Vash syn i brat (aka Your Son and Brother) director, scriptwriter
1967 - Journalist, actor
1967 - Commissar, actor
1967 - Tri Dnia Viktora Chernyshova, actor
1968 - Muzhskoy razgovor(aka Man's Talk), actor
1968-1971 - Osvobozhdenie (aka Liberation, aka The Great Battle), actor
1969 - Strannyye lyudi (aka Strange People), director, scriptwriter
1969 - U Ozera (By The Lake), actor
1969 - Ekho dalyokikh snegov (aka Echo of Distant Snows), actor
1970 - Lyubov Yarovaya, actor
1971 - Dauria, actor
1971 - Prishel Soldat s Fronta (aka A Soldier Returns from the Front), scriptwriter
1972 - Pechki-lavochki (aka Happy Go Lucky, aka The Ship Crowd), actor, director, scriptwriter
1973 - Kalina Krasnaya (aka The Red Snowball Tree), actor, director, scriptwriter
1974 - Yesli Khochesh Byt Schastlivym (aka If You Want to Be Happy), actor
1974 - Zemlyaki (aka Fellows), scriptwriter
1975 - Proshu slova (aka I Wish To Speak), actor
1975 - Oni Srazhalis Za Rodinu (aka They Fought For the Motherland, aka They Fought for Their Country), actor
1977 - Pozovi menya v dal svetluyu (aka Call Me from Afar), actor
2003 - A poutru oni prosnulis (And In The Morning They Woke Up), author of the literary basis

Compiled & Translated by Vera Ivanova



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