Gerasimov, Sergei Apollinarievich
Born May 21 (June 3), 1906, in Ekaterinburg, now Sverdlovsk. Soviet film director, actor, screenwriter, and theorist. People’s Artist of the USSR (1948). Doctor of the arts (1967). Member of the CPSU since 1943.
Gerasimov graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Stage Arts in 1928. He began his work in films in 1924 as an actor in the studio of FEKS (Slapstick Actors’ Workshop). Gerasimov first clearly showed his directorial skill in the films The Courageous Seven (1936), Komsomol’sk (1938), and The Teacher (1939), in which he concentrated on an artistic examination of the spiritual world of Soviet youth raised in socialist society. Gerasimov depicted the genuine heroism, the exalted beauty, and the poetry of the day-to-day creative and constructive labor of the Soviet people. Starting from the experience of prose and making use of its methods, Gerasimov has been especially attracted to the adaptation of the novel to film. Even in his first films, Gerasimov emerged as a consistent director-teacher, devoting great attention to his work with actors.
In 1941, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of M. Iu. Lermontov, Gerasimov played the role of the Unknown in his production of the film Masquerade (based on the play of the same name). Arguing in this film against the traditional melodramatic interpretation of the play and emphasizing rather its social significance, the director showed with great emotional force the tragedy awaiting an individual of uncommon personality in the autocratic Russia of the 19th century. During the Great Patriotic War Gerasimov was the Committee of Cinematography’s deputy chairman for the filming of military newsreels, and director of the Central Studio of Documentary Films. He produced the films The Invincible in 1943 (in collaboration with M. K. Kalatozov) and The Home Front in 1944. In the film The Young Guard (1948, based on the novel by A. A. Fadeev), the director combined epic scope with a deeply penetrating view of individual psychology. Its heroic ardor and brilliant portraits of the Young Guards, reproducing the patriotic atmosphere of the struggle against fascism, have made the film one of the outstanding works of cinematic art. The film The Quiet Don (1957-58, based on the novel by M. A. Sholokhov) proved a major event in the development of Soviet film. The portraits of the heroes of this distinguished Soviet novel were revealed by the director with all the complexity and richness of their social and psychological nature. In 1962, Gerasimov produced the film Man and Beast, in which he also played the role of L’vov-Shcherbatskii. He next produced The Journalist (1967) and By The Lake (1970). These three films are united by their attempt to reflect contemporary life and to deal with the problems that have arisen in the postwar world. The films show the growth of ever higher moral standards in their heroes. Gerasimov has written the scripts for almost all of his films.
Gerasimov has taught in the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) since 1931 (as a professor since 1946), where he directs a joint actor-director workshop. He was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR at its third and fourth convocations and a deputy at the seventh and eighth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR. He is a member of the presidium of the Soviet Committee for the Defense of Peace. He won the State Prize of the USSR in 1941, 1949, and 1951 and has been awarded two Orders of Lenin, three other orders, and various medals.
WORKSKomsomol’sk. In Kniga stsenariev. Moscow, 1938.
Uchitel’. In Uchitel’. Leningrad, 1940.
Litso sovetskogo kinoaktera. Moscow, 1935.
Zhizn’, fil’my, spory. Moscow, 1971.
REFERENCESFreilikh, S. Iskusstvo kinorezhissera. Moscow, 1954.
Volianskaia, N. Na urokakh rezhissury S. A. Gerasimova. Moscow, 1965.
L. A. PARFENOV