02 April 2003, 12:20

Abuladze, Tengiz Yevgenyevich

Georgian cinema director and screenplay author. National Artist (narodnyy artist) of the USSR (1980).

Born January 31, 1924, in Kutaisi. Studied in Rustaveli Tbilisi State Drama Institute in 1943-1946. Graduated from Director Department of VGIK, Kuleshov and Khokhlova Workshop, in 1953. Director at Gruzia-Film Studios since 1953.

Started his professional activities by setting short documentaries (Dmitriy Arakishvili and Georgia State Dance Group) in coauthorship with R. Chkheidze. In 1955, coauthored (with Chkheidze) a short feature film Lurdzha Magdany (Grand Prix of Cannes International Film Festival in 1956) - a realistic yet lyric sketch of life in a Georgian village. In 1958, debuted in individual directing by setting Someone Else's Children (Prize at London International Film Festival in 1960), an Italian-neorealism styled domestic drama depicting a conflict situation in a young Georgian family. A "sad comedy" of Grandma, Iliko, Illarion, and Me after Nodar Dumbadze's story was also produced in neorealist tradition. Lovely characters, residents of a small Georgian village in the WWII era, and specific Georgian humor seemed appealing to a viewer; the movie was a big success and brought the USSR-wide fame to Abuladze. Abuladze's comedy talent, present in virtually all his movies, reached its culmination in Necklace for My Loved One (1971), but the lyric and poetic nature of its humor left the mass audience indifferent.

Some time earlier - in 1967 - Abuladze opened an epic trilogy with a proverb film The Plea, in which a discussion of humankind values was started using authentic national approach. The center of The Plea's plot was a generic character of a Poet, behind which one could see a Georgian literature classic Vazha Pshavela whose poems were used for the movie plot. In 1977, the trilogy was continued with a poetic drama The Tree of Desire - a sublime story of two young lovers from a Georgian village in early 20th century whose passion dies under aggressive ossification and close-mindedness of the fellow villagers. The trilogy's concluding film was a philosophic proverb movie The Penance (Jury's Grand Prix of Cannes International Film Festival in 1988), which, by featuring a sinister character of Varlam Aravidze, both in plastics and the plotline brilliantly stigmatized Lavrenty Beriya and the entire mechanism of political repressions of his time. At the same time, the film, in which civic pathos and sharp absurdist irony intertwine, became not only artistic dethronement of personality cult, but also a kind of manifest proclaiming the beginning of political perestroika in the USSR.

Abuladze's style features expressive and poetic solutions, yet close to documentaries, tendency for philosophic metaphors, proverb-like plotlines, and widening the horizons of national topics towards the humankind scale.

Tengiz Abuladze died March 6, 1994, in Tbilisi.

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