MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
We are looking at the new exhibition of the Garden Ring Museum in search of New Year’s mood.
An exhibition opened at the Garden Ring Museum “A New Year’s Tale in the Cinema:” Morozko “dedicated to one of the most famous films of the Soviet director-storyteller Alexander Rowe, who won the great love of the audience and was awarded professional awards at home and abroad. Among the awards “Morozko” – the main prize of the XVII Venice International Film Festival in the program of children’s and youth films and the “Golden Branch” of the All-Union Film Festival in 1966 in Moscow. The premiere of “Frost” took place on March 24, 1965, but in the history of Russian cinema the film will forever remain one of the main New Year’s fairy tales.
The exposition includes sketches of the art director of the painting, Arseny Klopotovsky, who not only created images of heroes and decorations, but also became the author of many technical findings. For its time, the film became innovative – it used combined shots, rewind, double exposure. We invite you to stroll through the magical snow-covered world of cinema in the company of the curator of the exhibition, Lydia Enova.
Nordic landscapes and mastery of the production designer
The film takes place in two seasons – summer, when we get to know the characters and the main conflict, and winter, when the main miracles take place. Summer scenes were filmed near Moscow, near Zvenigorod, and winter nature was found on the Kola Peninsula, not far from the city of Olenegorsk. Alexander Rowe liked the northern snowy landscapes there with huge fir trees. He has already filmed in those places the winter scenes of the film “Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka.”
The first day of shooting was March 13, 1964. In Moscow and the Moscow region, spring comes into its own, and on the Kola Peninsula – frost, snowdrifts and, most importantly, that the director and cameraman Dmitry Surensky was so appreciated – transparent, crystal air. But the peculiarities of the northern climate also brought inconveniences. The construction of realistic scenery – Morozko’s tower, a peasant hut and Baba Yaga’s hut – in the permafrost conditions became a challenge for the production designer.
“Arseny Klopotovsky solved this problem – the scenery was erected on stable platforms,” says the curator of the exhibition. – Local craftsmen helped in the construction. At first, the delicate and modest artist did not inspire confidence in the northern people, but they quickly changed their minds about him. Arseny Pavlovich was not only a talented artist, but also a professional practitioner. He knew how to work with his hands – during the Great Patriotic War, when his father went to the front, and his mother raised the younger children, 16-year-old Arseny had to become the head of the family. In 1944-1946 he worked at the Alma-Ata film studio, which predetermined his future profession – in 1946 Klopotovsky entered the art department of VGIK ”.
The artist was faced with another difficult task – to revive Baba Yaga’s hut, and he also coped with it brilliantly. We made two huts: the first, a wooden one, was set in motion by a system of levers. Outwardly, it was supposed to look small, but at the same time accommodate the characters and the operator, so one of the walls was movable. The second hut was cut out of foam rubber and put on the extras like a life-size puppet. Stump costumes were made on the same principle.
By the way, foam rubber (scientific name – elastic polyurethane foam) at that time was far from being as available as it is today. This material was invented in the 1940s; it was launched into mass production in the USSR only in the 1970s. Then, in the mid-1960s, few knew about its properties in the country. Klopotovsky, who spoke foreign languages and was interested in world technical innovations, suggested using it. Trusting the artist, the M.A. Gorky bought expensive material.
While working on the film Frost, Arseny Klopotovsky discovered not only technical ingenuity, but also artistic taste. The mansion of the wizard Morozko, created by him, is a symbiosis of traditional wooden architecture and the architecture of Northern Art Nouveau. In it you can see the continuation of the traditions of creativity of Russian artists-storytellers Viktor Vasnetsov and Ivan Bilibin.
Employees of the Gorky Film Studio Alexander Rowe and Arseny Klopotovsky met in 1957 on the set of the film “The New Adventures of Puss in Boots.” This work marked the beginning of their creative union – later they created together the fabulous worlds of the films “The Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors”, “Frost”, “Fire, Water and … Copper Pipes”, “Barbara-Beauty, Long Braid”.
Work on each film began long before filming. The artist drew storyboards for the future picture, later they were discussed with the operator, jointly corrected. Rowe appreciated the professionalism, innovative approach and firm character of Arseny Klopotovsky, who offered brilliant incarnations of his vision of a particular scene.
Unfortunately, the full storyboard of Morozko has not survived. You can get an idea of it by looking at the postcards with drawings by Arseny Klopotovsky presented at the exhibition. A series of 15 double-sided postcards “Morozko” was released in 1984 with a circulation of 600 thousand copies.
Two fairy tales, four actresses and one Baba Yaga
Every East Slavic people has a plot of the fairy tale “Morozko”. In Russia, there are the most varieties of “Morozko” – researchers have about 40 of them. In all of them, there is an evil stepmother, a hardworking stepdaughter and a certain powerful lord of the cold – the wizard Frost. But in none of them is there a young man who turns into a bear – this event came to the film from another folk tale, “Ivan the Bear’s Head”.
The literary script for the film was written by Mikhail Volpin with Nikolai Erdman, who by that time were familiar to Soviet viewers from the films “Merry Guys”, “Volga-Volga”, “Actress”, “Brave People”, “Outpost in the Mountains” and others. The writers transposed two fairy tales, added new characters and prescribed a love line, and most importantly, they brought a lot of humor and comical moments to the plot.
For the role of Little Martyr, Alexander Rowe planned to take Tamara Nosova, who starred in all his films. But once the director’s assistant saw the young Inna Churikova, a student at the Shchepkin Theater School, and advised her to try her for this role. Rowe immediately won the talent of Churikova. The role of Marfushi became the first big work of the actress in the cinema – before that she starred in episodic roles in the films “Clouds over Borsk” (1960) and “I walk around Moscow” (1963). In 1965, shortly after the premiere of “Morozko”, Inna Mikhailovna graduated from college with honors.
The meek Nastenka was originally supposed to be played by Nadezhda Rumyantseva, the audience’s favorite Tosya Kislitsyna from Girls (1961). But in the end, the choice fell on 15-year-old Natalia Sedykh, who studied at the Moscow Choreographic School of the USSR Ministry of Culture. A young ballerina with huge eyes in the form of a dying swan captivated the director.
There was no doubt about Baba Yaga from the very beginning: of course, she will be played by Georgy Frantsevich de Mille, better known as Millyar. One of Rowe’s favorite actors, who has played in many of his films, already had this experience: he played Babu Yaga in Vasilisa the Beautiful. The actor himself said that giving this role to a man was the right decision: few women would agree to such a terrible image. Millyar often played several characters at once. In “Morozko” you can also see him in the role of the clerk-robber and hear his voice in the voice acting of Petya the cockerel.
The role of the good fellow Ivan was given to Eduard Izotov, and the wizard Morozko was played by Alexander Khvylya. One of the most famous actors of the Soviet Union, for many years he served as the country’s main Santa Claus, performing in this role at the main Christmas tree in the Kremlin.
The tale of Alexander Rowe has become a classic, its plot and characters are familiar from childhood, the funny phrases of the characters (“No, not a princess! Princess!”) Are learned by heart. We know exactly at what point the next miracle should happen on the screen, like a running hut or trees that come to life. But “Morozko” invariably makes the viewer freeze with surprise even today, in the age of high technologies and computer special effects. Especially before the New Year!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.