Daneliya: the dzhigit of Soviet cinema

Strictly adhering to the principle “What the dude says, the dude does”, I’ll tell you about Daneliya as I promised.
His name is Georgi Nikolayevich. He was born in Tbilisi (Aug. 25, 1930, horoscope – Virgo). It is interesting that he decided to become a director not immediately after school (though, all good directors used to do the same). Firstly he wanted to be an architect. In 1955 he graduated from Moscow Architectural Institute and 4 years later he completed director course in Moscow. In fact, he even used to be a jazz drummer … but people remember him as a director.

Yes, he is nominally a Russian director. To be more precise, the Russians are happy to consider him a Russian director, because of some facts: the graduation from 2 Moscow universities, marriage with Moscow actress, his son was the resident of Moscow (unfortunately, his son is dead). But even any admirer of the Soviet cinema of that period with the naked eye can see that all or nearly all the works of Daneliya are filled with Georgian mentality and aesthetics.
In general, he did a lot in order to penetrate Georgia and its landscapes, mountains, unique human characters, humor, mineral springs, mountains and waterfalls, unique culture and history into our homes and souls.

I think everyone (even those, who are not experts in the field of cinema) saw a couple of movies of this cult creator. It is really hard not to remember this age-old mix of humour, drama and grotesque. He made such films, as: “Splendid Days” (Серёжа), “The Road to Berth” (Путь к причалу), “I Step Through Moscow” (Я шагаю по Москве), “Don’t Grieve” (Не горюй!), “Thirty Three” (Тридцать три), “Afonya” (Афоня), “Mimino” (Мимино), “Kin-dza-dza!” (Кин-Дза-Дза!), “Autumn Marathon” (Осенний марафон), “Nastya” (Настя), “Vasisuali Lohankin” (Васисуалий Лоханкин), “Hopelessly Lost” (Совсем пропащий), “The Passport” (Паспорт), “Also People” (Тоже люди)… and not only this.

In addition to directing, Daneliya made scripts (he made 16 scripts to his works, by the way). In conjunction with Victoria Tokareva (subsequently she became a successful female writer) he wrote the script for the movie «Gentlemen of Fortune.»  Also he must have been the director of this movie. However, another story connected with criminal intervened in. Alexander Seryj (Daneliya’s colleague) had a criminal record because of fight. After the jail it seemed that his director’s career was over, because no one would have allowed ex-prisoner to make films. But Daneliya allowed. Daneliya let Seryj make this knowingly zero-risk variant of successful film project. So Seryj became the director of one of the best comedies of the Soviet period. Otherwise, Alexander would have got the role of the second director. So we can say that Daneliya did as true dzhigit. Also the most Georgian filmmaker liked to shoot in his films the most Georgian actor — Vakhtang Kikabidze, of course. In the film “Do not grieve” Kikabidze is so young that sometimes he is barely recognizable by our contemporaries. We used to see him as the gray-haired gentleman in a suit.

And if anyone reads this blog regularly, he/she should remember some of the historical details from past posts. The movie “Do not grieve” is filmed on the area of the Borjomi Gorge, in the narrow-gauge railway Borjomi — Bakuriani.
I’m still really amazed because of level of his national Georgian aesthetics, so that even the French adaptation of the novel by Claude Tile «My Uncle Benjamin» was made in a typical Georgian style. By the way, the French and Georgian versions were on the screen almost simultaneously, and the French version remained unimaginative movie, but the version of Daneliya became famous throughout the world and won a lot of prizes.

In addition, here are some interesting facts about the film, for example:

— In the beginning of the movie voiceover says: “It happened in the end of last century in a sunny tiled town. Or maybe it didn’t happened… no, perhaps, it happened.” This phrase says Mikhail Romm. It is included in film at Art Council request.
— According to Daneliya, Fellini liked this film very much. But Leonid Gaidai and Sergei Paradjanov negatively spoke about it.
— There is a fictional character Rene Hobua in the credits of this film. He had never acted in the film and maybe he even didn’t exist. But since the release of «Do not grieve” his name appeared in the credits of every Daneliya’s film.

— Waha Kikabidze after the acting in the film «Do not grieve» became the favourite Actor (with a capital letter) of Daneliya and subsequently acted in films «Hopelessly Lost,» «Fortune», «Mimino”. Role in the film «Passport» was made for Kikabidze.
— For the first time Daneliya collaborated with composer Giya Kancheli in this film. Then he worked with him on future films.
— The same goes for screenwriter Rezo Gabriadze. In «Do not grieve” they had met as colleagues, then they worked in “Mimino»,» Passport «and» Kin-dza-dza «together.
— Surname “Mizandari” is found in «Do not grieve …» and «Mimino”. It is probably one of the strokes of joint handwriting of director and screenwriter:)

— In St. Petersburg there is a restaurant of Georgian cuisine «Do not grieve».
— Gia Danelia and Sofiko Chiaureli (who played in «Do not grieve» one of the main characters) are distant relatives.

So, my friends, if you will be on tour in the Borjomi Gorge or in Bakuriani or on train station, where the trains go on the narrow gauge track, please see “Do not grieve” beforehand. It will be interesting to compare the landscapes.

By the way, I completely forgot. Daneliya was 80 last year:)

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