Dovzhenko, Aleksandr

Dovzhenko, Aleksandr

Dovzhenko, Aleksandr (əlyĭksänˈdər dōvzhĕnˈkō), 1894–1956, Soviet film director, b. Ukraine. He ranks with Eisenstein and Pudovkin as one of the greatest Soviet filmmakers. Zvenigord (1928), Arsenal (1929), and Earth (1930) used editing for lyric ends and celebrated the lives and work of his fellow Ukrainians. The physical beauty of his films brought him great acclaim, but Earth was denounced by Soviet critics as “counterrevolutionary,” and Dovzhenko turned to making films more agreeable to the regime. His wife, Elena Solntseva, directed three films from screenplays left by Dovzhenko after his death, including Poem of the Sea (1958).
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Dovzhenko, Aleksandr Petrovich


Born Aug. 30 (Sept. 11), 1894, in the village of Sosnitsy, in present-day Chernigov Oblast; died Nov. 25, 1956, in Moscow. Soviet Ukrainian film director, writer, and screenwriter. People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1950).

In 1914, Dovzhenko graduated from the Glukhov Teachers’ Institute. After the Great October Revolution he worked in the People’s Commissariat of Education of the Ukraine and worked for newspapers and journals as a graphic artist. In 1926 he wrote the script and was co-director of the film Vasia the Reformer. Dovzhenko’s original creative individuality revealed itself for the first time in the film Zvenigora (1928). Already in this film, the popular sources of Dovzhenko’s talent were apparent. High romantic spirit and fierce satire, the lyricism of songs and political publicism, and an epic treatment of events fuse into a single artistic whole and give all his films a unique heroic-poetic quality. Dovzhenko attained truly philosophical heights in the historical-revolutionary film Arsenal (1929) and especially in the film Earth (1930), which deals with the struggle for collectivization in the Ukraine. In 1958 at the Brussels Film Festival (part of the World’s Fair) the film was named as one of the 12 best films of all times and all peoples.

In 1932, Dovzhenko directed the film Ivan, one of the first Soviet sound films. In 1935 he produced Aerograd. Dovzhenko’s film Shchors (1939; State Prize of the USSR, 1941) was a great achievement.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, Dovzhenko was a military correspondent and wrote emotional journalistic articles, essays, and stories. Dovzhenko’s documentary films Liberation (1940, about the reunification of the Western Ukraine), The Battle for Our Soviet Ukraine (1943), and Victory in the Right-bank Ukraine (1945) became outstanding models of poetic film publicism.

In the postwar years Dovzhenko wrote the play and script Life in Blossom on the basis of which the color film Michurin (1949; State Prize of the USSR, 1949) was made.

Death interrupted Dovzhenko’s work on the film Poem About the Sea, and he was posthumously awarded the Lenin Prize for the script of that film in 1959. From the scripts Poem About the Sea and Tale of Fiery Years and The Bewitched Desna, a lyric novella devoted to Dovzhenko’s childhood (1955; published, 1957), as well as from other stories of his, the director lu. I. Solntseva made films with the same titles. Dovzhenko was the scriptwriter of almost all his films and a writer-journalist who affirmed the spiritual wealth and beauty of Soviet man and actively fought for communist morality. He worked as a teacher; from 1949 to 1951 and after 1955 he taught at the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography.

Dovzhenko made a great contribution to the development of Soviet and world film art. The Kiev Cinema Studio for Feature Films was named after Dovzhenko. He was awarded the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and medals.


Tvory, vols. 1-5. Introductory article by M. Ryl’s’kyi. Kiev, 1964-66.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1-4. Moscow, 1966-69.


Bazhan, M. O. Dovzhenko. Kiev, 1930.
Eizenshtein, S. “Rozhdenie mastera.” Iskusstvo kino, 1940, nos. 1-2.
lurenev, R. N. Aleksandr Dovzhenko. Moscow, 1959.
Mar’iamov, A. Dovzhenko. Moscow, 1968. (Contains a bibliography and list of films, pp. 378-82.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.