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40 years after the premiere, we look into the classrooms and the schoolyard, where they filmed a film about the first love of high school students.

The melodrama “You Never Dreamed of”, released in the spring of 1981, was watched by more than 26 million people, according to the results of the audience vote, the magazine “Soviet Screen” named it the best film of the year. She was also appreciated abroad – at the International Film Festival of Children and Youth Films in Tomar (Portugal), Tatiana Aksyuta received an honorary diploma for the best actress. A year later, the premiere of the Soviet film took place in the United States, in the American box office it was called Love & Lies.

The film tells about another country – today the platonic love of schoolchildren is unlikely to become the subject of conversations about morality. Moscow, where most of the filming took place, also looks different. School No. 780 (now No. 1103), where the film crew went 40 years ago, has also changed. The school’s director, Valery Dashko, told about how trusting relationships between teachers and students are being built in the school today, how children choose their future here and achieve their first successes.

But first – the background

Once the writer Galina Shcherbakova heard a story: a tenth-grader in love climbed up the drainpipe to the sixth floor to leave a note for the girl, and when he went down, the pipe broke and he fell. From the image of a boy who falls from a great height because of love, the story “Roman and Yulka” was born.

The editorial staff of the Yunost magazine, where Shcherbakova sent the manuscript, did not answer for a long time. Then the writer sent a copy to the Gorky Film Studio addressed to the director Sergei Gerasimov. His wife, actress Tamara Makarova, really liked the story, and she promised to contribute to the adaptation. A few days later, Shcherbakova met with Ilya Fraz, a leading figure in films about children and adolescents. Together they began work on the script.

A still from the film “You never dreamed of …”. Directed by I. Fraz. 1980 / Photo by E. Samarin.

At the same time, the fate of the publication in Yunost was being decided. The editor of the magazine, writer Boris Polevoy, explained that he was embarrassed by the dark ending in which the main character dies. Shcherbakova made corrections right in the editorial office, making the ending open: now it was not clear whether the hero was dying, or he was simply losing consciousness. In the fall of 1979, the story was published under the editorial title “You never dreamed of …”.

Goskino also had complaints about the author’s title, which read a clear allusion to Romeo and Juliet. The writer was asked not to aim at William Shakespeare and change the name of the heroine. Katya appeared instead of Yulka. But the audience considered the reference. Moreover, at the beginning of the film, the class goes to the theater for West Side Story – originally a Broadway musical based on the saddest story in the world.

A still from the film “You never dreamed of …”. Directed by I. Fraz. 1980 / Photo by E. Samarin.

The search for Romka and national love

The director approved the 23-year-old GITIS graduate Tatyana Aksyuta for the role of Katya almost immediately, but they were looking for the performer of the role of Roma for a long time, until the director’s assistant remembered about an aspiring actor from Leningrad who might come up. 16-year-old Nikita Mikhailovsky, despite his little acting experience, struck everyone.

A still from the film “You never dreamed of …”. Directed by I. Fraz. 1980 / Photo by E. Samarin.

In the role of Katya’s mother Lyudmila, Ilya Fraz saw only Irina Miroshnichenko. The actress at that time was recovering from a car accident, and the director waited, refusing all applicants. Father Roman, who loved Lyudmila in his youth, was played by Albert Filozov, a strict mother who, out of jealousy for her husband’s first love, forbade her son to communicate with Lyudmila’s daughter, Lydia Fedoseeva-Shukshina. A small but bright role of Roma’s grandmother went to Tatiana Peltzer. And the image of the class teacher, teacher of the Russian language and literature, who is so well versed in the feelings of students, and in real life rejects love, was embodied by Elena Solovey.

A still from the film “You never dreamed of …”. Directed by I. Fraz. 1980 / Photo by E. Samarin.

School No. 780 on Lithuanian Boulevard in Yasenevo was chosen for filming. According to the plot, the heroes move to a new residential area, which means that the school must be fresh and stand among new buildings. The 780th fit perfectly, its director Antonina Zhizhera happily agreed to Fraz’s proposal. The classes were not specially prepared, everything got into the frame in the form in which it was in life. The students were delighted with the fact that films were being made at their school, and they were eager to get into the frame even if only for a glimpse. And some succeeded: in the scene of the conversation between Roman’s mother and the director (Nina Mazaeva), outside the window, you can see how the children are rolling a huge reel. This was not planned – resourceful students just came up with an activity that will allow them to flicker into the movies.

The film did not leave anyone indifferent. There were also opponents who bombarded Ilya Fraz and Galina Shcherbakov with angry letters: what is this image of Soviet schoolchildren who do not study at school, but fall in love? Lydia Fedoseeva-Shukshina received many sad responses from mothers who recognized themselves in her heroine and wondered if they were doing everything right. For a long time, the teenagers sang tunes written for the film by Alexei Rybnikov. Of course, the magic song “The Last Poem” performed by Irina Otiyeva and Vera Sokolova received special love. Rybnikov wrote the song to the verses of Rabindranath Tagore back in the 1970s, but it became known only after the film was released.

A still from the film “You never dreamed of …”. Directed by I. Fraz. 1980 / Photo by E. Samarin.

Ibid, 40 years later

The school on the Lithuanian Boulevard changed its number, the thin seedlings in the yard turned into large trees. Where there was a wasteland during the filming, now there are sports grounds and other educational buildings. But the porch on which Katya and Roma’s classmates joked about their upcoming wedding is still the same. And the apple tree, under which the heroes were touchingly saying goodbye, is on the spot.

School director Valeriy Dashko says that Ilya Fraz’s film is remembered and loved here. Sometimes children review it on the classroom clock, discuss and compare school life then and now. Indeed, the picture today can be used as a textbook on history, it accurately notes the changes in the lifestyle of Soviet youth that began in the 1980s: access to Western music, fashionable clothes, frank conversations.

Today, like 40 years ago, children become friends, win the right to independence from their parents and, of course, fall in love. According to Valery Dashko, school novels are viewed without condemnation.

“We are, of course, happy for the guys who find their first love at school. But we ask that they do not demonstrate their relationships in public during the educational process, so as not to distract others from their studies. We really want all our schoolchildren to be happy, to enjoy coming to school, to feel at home here, ”says the director.

The main task, he believes, is to ensure that the relationship between teachers and students is trusting and warm – without them it is difficult to build the educational process. Educators should not only teach their subjects, but also educate students to be worthy people. They always try to help with advice and generally be friends with children.

“We are doing a lot of work with class teachers: they must know, for example, about the problems of the children and, together with the administration, try to solve them promptly. We strive to study students, their needs, their capabilities. Remember, in the film, the hero is transferred to another school because he has aptitude for mathematics? We try to make sure that our students can realize their potential here, ”says Valeriy Dashko.

A still from the film “You never dreamed of …”. Directed by I. Fraz. 1980 / Photo by E. Samarin.

On the contrary, new students come to school No. 1103 quite often, because there are many demanded specialized and pre-professional classes, including cadet, engineering, pedagogical, IT classes and others. In their own media studio, the guys create news for the school website and social networks. There is also a theater group – if one of the modern directors again chooses a school as a film set, there will be no business for young actors. Newbies are always welcome, class teachers do their best to make them easily join the team.

About 2800 people are currently studying in different buildings of the school. At the end of the academic year, students of the 1103rd are doing well with the Unified State Exam, often there are 100-point grades among the graduates. In 2021, for example, Irina Chuikova received 100 points for the literature exam.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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