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HomeLatest NewsOn the night of his wife's death, Elem Klimov had the worst...

On the night of his wife’s death, Elem Klimov had the worst dream of his life.

Date: June 19, 2024 Time: 12:51:52

Directors Elem Klimov and Larisa Shepitko married in 1965. Photo: Evgenia Kassina / TASS Newscast


He himself did not really know what the name Elem meant. In general, the abbreviation “Engels, Lenin, Marx” – the usual experimental name of the 30s (it seems to correspond to the party line and sounds in French). But in an interview, he said that his mother during pregnancy was very passionate about Jack London’s novel “The Day Burns” and his hero named Harnish. His name is Elam, not Elem, but apparently Elem seemed more effective to his mother. Klimov also believed that the name was derived from the French elle aime – “she loves”… In general, a difficult name for a Stalingrad child.

Elem Germanovich Klimov was born there in 1933. It is known what happened to the city when he was a child. “I saw a burning city, then, returning from the evacuation, I remembered the destroyed city. My father defended Stalingrad. I saw death, I knew hunger, ”he said in an interview. After the war, after graduating from school, he decided to enter the Moscow Aviation Institute. And he graduated, and even began to work in his specialty, although already during his studies he thought about a completely different career.

He was drawn to VGIK. He tried to enroll in a course with the living classic Mikhail Romm, but it ended in a fiasco. Romm asked him during the examination: “Where did Natasha Rostova meet with the wounded Andrei Bolkonsky? Purely geographically? Klimov did not know this and “freaked out.” Then Romm suggested something like a sketch: he asked her to imagine that Elem was walking around Moscow at night, looking into the basements of houses and describing the life of its inhabitants. “At that time, many people still lived in basements, and I had something to tell, but, offended, I replied: ‘I don’t look at other people’s apartments.’ “Well, well,” Romm sighed, “and which of the modern writers do you like?” “No one,” I replied, although of course I read a lot …

As a result, however, he entered, but in a course with the director Efim Dzigan. He quickly made a publicity film “Beware of vulgarity!”, directed against piggy bank cats (as in “Operation Y”) and other consumer goods that “philistines” love. Well, after a while, the film “Welcome or No Trespassing” appeared, which was immediately put on the shelf.

Yes, of course, it was satire, but not so defiantly reckless as to ban it. Klimov could not understand what was the matter, and then he found out. And he said: “There is an episode in the film where the boy, the hero of the film, dreamed of his grandmother’s funeral. Such a comical and parodic funeral. Old friends of his carry a large photographic portrait. And the grandmother is plump, her face is round and her hair is somehow blurred, disappeared with great magnification. As she watched, one of the editors exclaimed, “Yes, they are burying Khrushchev!” Naturally, we had none of that in mind, it was a satire on the bureaucratization of children’s lives, on their nomenclature. Then I first learned the expression “anti-Soviet film” …

In general, “Welcome” was released only after Khrushchev personally saw the film and did not detect any libel about himself.

The fate of the next picture “The Adventures of a Dentist” (Andrey Myagkov made his debut on the screen) was even sadder – it was released in 25 copies throughout the vast country, that is, almost no one saw it. One can write books about the fate of The Agony, a film about Grigory Rasputin and the last years before the revolution: it was banned, it was shredded, it came out only ten years after it was ready, and it became a bit of a sensation. But the saddest thing is that Klimov himself did not like the film. “It seemed to me that I was missing wonderful material between my fingers, which made it possible for both the director and the actors and everyone else to do something different,” he said bitterly after the triumphant premiere. “If I had to do this over again, I would do it differently, very differently.”


In 1965 Klimov married Larisa Shepitko. Ironically, the husband and wife were going to make two of the most outstanding war films in the history of Soviet cinema – “Ascent” and “Come and See”. And ironically, two well-known directors lived near poverty. They had very few projects in the works, had to live in debt, and the fees received from the next film went to pay off debts incurred during downtime. The film “Sport, sport, sport” appeared mainly because it was necessary to fix the holes in the budget (and the innocent topic – sports competitions – almost one hundred percent “passed”).

There were dramatic moments in their relationship. Against the background of her husband’s suffering with “Agony”, Shepitko released “Ascent”, a great film that won the main prize at the Berlin Film Festival and a number of other international awards. “It was then that I literally hated Larisa, all her comings and goings, festivals, premieres, flowers, press conferences. At each glance of her I felt self-indulgence, complacency, contempt for me, the wretch, who lost, fainted, fell apart. Everything in her annoyed me, every touch burned me… However, this period, fortunately, did not last long.

Klimov and Shepitko is not just a love story, it is a story of tragedy. Klimov recalled: “On July 2, 1979, I had the worst dream in my life. I remember it to this day down to the smallest detail. I woke up in terror and involuntarily looked at my watch. For a long time he could not calm down, he walked around the apartment, smoked. I later learned that the tragedy occurred at that time. At the 187th kilometer of the Leningrad highway. (Gray van “Volga” with six members of the film crew [фильма «Прощание с Матерой» – Ред.] early in the morning on a deserted highway, for an unknown reason, he entered the oncoming lane and collided with a truck rushing towards.) “…

It is curious that on the same night Vladimir Gostyukhin, who played with Larisa Shepitko in Ascension, had a dream. “Whether in the park, or in the woods, where I wander alone, Ella suddenly appears. So clear, calm, I have never seen it illuminated. I am excited and delighted by this meeting. We walk in fantastic thickets, I talk and talk, I tell everything that torments me, does not give me rest. I see that they understand me, that they do not hold a grudge against me. Oh, how happy I was in this amazing dream! There was a strong, sensitive and kind friend nearby! In the morning I told the dream to my wife. We marveled at the wonders of the human psyche, and would probably have forgotten it in time, but that day came with terrible news, and this dream was forever imprinted in my memory…”


After the death of his wife, Klimov barely recovered. And he only did two movies. First of all, he finished “Farewell to Matera” (the painting was called simply “Farewell”, and it was clear that this title was not just about the fate of the village described by Valentin Rasputin). And secondly, he shot Come and See, which is considered one of the main masterpieces of Soviet cinema. The story of the boy Flera, who witnessed the indescribable Nazi atrocities, plunged viewers around the world into a stupor: they say that when a movie projector broke down during one of the screenings abroad and the lights went on in the room, people sat for twenty minutes in complete silence, practically without moving and barely breathing.

After Come and See, Klimov lived for another 18 years and did not take anything away. He dreamed of shooting The Master and Margarita, but was told that even the American film industry would be ready for such a project in at least 10 years (in fact, it would be difficult to shoot Bulgakov without the help of digital special effects). In 1997, he said that he would shoot “The Master” if a “thick wallet” with a hundred million dollars “falls from the sky”: that is what he estimated the cost of the film. The wallet, of course, did not fall out. And other projects did not interest him. In 2003, he left.

In the same interview in 1997, he admitted that he was not bored: he wrote “punk poems”, which he swore never to print, and five kilograms of paper with these poems had already accumulated. In response to a request to read something, he uttered a line: “I kneel in ecstasy before the closed door forever.”

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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