20 May 2003, 03:52

Chiaureli, Mikhail Edisherovich

Director, screenwriter, theater and cinema actor, sculptor, and illustrator. People's artist (narodnyy artist) of the USSR (1948). Professor of VGIK (1951).

Born January 25 (February 6), 1894, in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia). In 1916, graduated from a painting and sculpture school in Tiflis. In 1921, participated in organizing Revolutionary Satire Theater at the Georgian Department of ROSTA. In the same year, acted in cinema for the first time (Arsen in the film Arsen Djordjiashvili). From 1922 till 1924, lived in Germany, studied in sculpture workshops; from 1924 till 1926, worked as a sculptor in Tiflis. From 1926 till 1928, M.E. Chiaureli was an actor and director of Red Theater under the auspices of Proletarian Culture Committee. From 1926 till 1941, was also a director and artistic director of Georgian Music Comedy Theater, which he founded.

Starting 1928, Chiaureli worked as a director in State Cinema Production of Georgia (later renamed into Tbilisi Cinema studio). His first movies were: First Cornet Streshnev (1928, co-production with E.L. Dzigan), Saba (1929), and Khabarda (1931). His movie The Last Masquerade (1934) opened a series of historic revolutionary movies typical for Chiaureli's creative works to follow. From 1946 till 1955, Chiaureli worked in Mosfilm studios; from 1955 till 1957 - in Sverdlovsk cinema studios. Was an instructor of the acting school at Tbilisi cinema studios; from 1950 till 1960, was an instructor in VGIK.

The director's name is connected primarily with the period of grand style in the art, which coincided with the years of Stalinism. These are the movie Georgy Saakadze (1942-1943) dedicated to the Georgian history, as well as movies from the soviet history: The Great Blaze (1938), Oath (1946, Gold Medal at Venice International Movie Festival in 1946), Berlin's Fall (1949, USSR State Prize 1950, Great Prize of Karlovy-Vary International Movie Festival 1950), and The Unforgettable 1919 (1951, Great Prize f Karlovy-Vary International Movie Festival 1952). The cinematographic aesthetics created by Chiaureli, however vulnerable to critics, is nonetheless distinguished with an original integrity, and the image of Stalin proposed by him is exactly the image having little in common with the real statesman and party leader.

The director's latest movies did not find success among the spectators. As if totaling the results of his work in fiction cinema, the director gave his last fiction movie an expressive title of The Times Are Different Now (1965), after which he demonstratively turned to animated movies. However, within the row of rather neutral animated cartoons Singer of the Dawn (1968), Surgeon Rooster (1971), A Flea and an Ant (1972), A Jug of Oil (1973), there stands out a work entitled, ironically, How the Mice Buried the Cat (1969) - that was a name of a famous cheap popular print allegorically telling about the funeral of Peter the First.

Chiaureli was honored with the title of the Laureate of USSR State Prize (in 1941, 1943, 1946, 1947, and 1950). Was awarded three Lenin orders (orden Lenina), two other orders, and several medals.

M.E. Chiaureli's daughter is a famous drama and cinema actress Sofiko Chiaureli.

Mikhail Edisherovich Chiaureli died in Tbilisi on October 31, 1974.

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