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 Yevgeni Urbansky

Born:   27 February 1932
Deceased:   05 November 1959



Yevgeni Urbansky rushed into cinema as a hundred-per-cent man bursting with irrepressible temperament and craving for life. For viewers he has remained aged thirty three, just like Christ – at this age the actor faced tragic death. A whole cinema epoch and peculiar aesthetics created in the films Kommunist (The Communist) (1958), Chistoe nebo (Clear Skies) (1961), and Ballada o soldate (Ballad of a Soldier) (1959) passed away together with him.

Yevgeni Yakovlelvich Urbansky was born on February 27, 1932 in Moscow, into the family of a Communist party worker. In 1957 he finished Drama School Studio attached to MXAT and was admitted to the company of Stanislavsky Moscow Drama Theatre.

Kommunist The creative career of Yevgeni Urbansky was short but very bright. His starring debut in the movie Kommunist (The Communist) directed by Yuli Raizman brought love of the public, film critics and authorities to the actor. The film won first awards at the festivals in Venice and Kiev in 1958. In 1959 The Communist was named among the three best films of the year according to the poll of the readers of the magazine Sovetsky Ekran (Soviet Screen).

Ballada o soldate The actor was recognized in the streets by many people who would ask him for autographs; lots of film directors wanted him to star in their new films. However, Yevgeni Urbansky took his time to enrich his acting experience on stage, playing in around 22 to 25 plays every month in the course of two years. Only in the middle of 1958 he finally turned to cinema again. It was Grigori Chukhrai’s war drama Ballada o soldate (Ballad of a Soldier) (1959), in which Urbansky played a nameless disabled soldier whom the main character Alesha Skvortsov comes across at a railway station.

Chistoe nebo In 1960 Yevgeni again agreed to work with the film director Grigori Chukhrai sincerely admired by the actor. He was to play the main character, the pilot Alexei Astakhov, a Hero of the Soviet Union in the drama Chistoe nebo (Clear Skies) (1961). This work turned to be one of the most complicated ones in the creative biography of Urbansky. According to the film’s plot the hero had to go through a variety of life collisions: success in defending his motherland, sudden falling in love, being in enemies’ captivity, banishment from the party, unbelief in people, and, finally, slow recovery of self-confidence and trust in his beloved woman.

The film won acclaim of general public, was acknowledged the best film of the year by viewers and gathered numerous awards at film festivals in Moscow, Mexico and San Francisco.

Yevgeni Urbansky Yevgeni Urbansky, the winner of the “First prize for the best male role” at the All-Union Film Festival (1959) and the honoured Actor of the Russian Republic (1962) tragically died on November 5, 1965 during the filming of Direktor (The Director). It happened during shooting of the scene in which a transport column was driving over sands. According to the scenario the car of Aleksej Svorykin (Urbansky’s character) was supposed to whirl through the sand dunes, overtake the column and head it. One of the most difficult shots in the scene was a bounce of the car from one of the dunes. The first take went fine, yet the second film director wanted the car to jump higher and asked for one more take. During the next take the car suddenly turned upside down. The actor died in a moment.

In 1969 the Direktor was re-filmed with Nikolai Gubenko playing the main role. The film was released and was a success with the public. The year 1968 saw the release of Yekaterina Stashevskaya-Naroditskaya’s documentary Yevgeni Urbansky.

Urbansky did not like to discuss his successes and failures, the roles he had played and had not played, yet he had one innermost dream which never came true – he dreamt of playing Vladimir Mayakovski.

After the premiere of Nine Days in One Year (9 Dnej Odnogo Goda) (1961) Yevgeni Urbansky said: “The time of the intelligent, delicate and ironical hero is coming. The time of my straightforward, non-compromising and down to earth mastodons is coming to an end.” His life book says nothing of what he would be like nowadays, so we can only guess…


Tags: Russian cinema Russian actors    

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