Pyrev, Ivan

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pyr’ev, Ivan Aleksandrovich


Born Nov. 4 (17), 1901, in the village of Kamen’-na-Obi, now in Altai Krai; died Feb. 7, 1968, in Moscow. Soviet film director. People’s Artist of the USSR (1948). Member of the CPSU since 1956.

Pyr’ev served in the Red Army in 1918. In 1923 he graduated from the department of acting of the State Experimental Theatrical Workshops, where he studied directing as well; he also acted in the First Workers’ Theater of the Proletkul’t (Proletarian Cultural and Educational Organization). In 1925 he began working in films.

Pyr’ev’s first productions, The Unknown Woman (1929) and the Government Official (1931), were satirical comedies that ridiculed bureaucracy and philistinism. In 1933 he directed the antifascist film The Death Conveyor, and in 1936, the film A Party Membership Card.

Pyr’ev devoted much of his career to developing musical comedy. The films The Rich Bride (1938), The Tractor Drivers (1939), The Swine Girl and the Shepherd (1941), At Six in the Evening After the War (1944), The Legend of the Siberian Land (1948), and The Kuban’ Cossacks (1950) are permeated by a life-affirming enthusiasm, lyricism, and a lively spirit. Colorful, musical, and close to Russian folklore, they depict the life and work of Soviet soldiers and kolkhoz workers. In 1942, Pyr’ev directed one of the first films about the partisan movement of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45—The Raion Committee Secretary.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Pyr’ev directed the documentary film We Are for Peace (1952) and such films devoted to contemporary life as Loyalty on Trial (1954), Our Mutual Friend (1962), and The Light of a Distant Star (1965). His films adapted from F. M. Dostoevsky’s works, for which he also wrote the screenplays, displayed new, unexpected aspects of his talent and his ability to reveal social conflicts and create intense dramatism. These films were The Idiot (Nastas’ia Filippovna, 1958), White Nights (1960), and The Brothers Karamazov (1969, in three parts).

Pyr’ev’s films were awarded prizes at international film festivals. At the Sixth International Film Festival in Moscow (1969), the jury posthumously awarded him a special prize, For Outstanding Services to the Development of Film-making. From 1957 to 1965, Pyr’ev was chairman of the organizational committee of the Union of Cinematographers of the USSR. For a number of years he headed the Mosfil’m studio; later he directed the Luch (The Ray) society affiliated with the studio.

Pyr’ev received the State Prize of the USSR in 1941, 1942, 1943,1946,1948, and 1951. He was a warded three Orders of Lenin, four other orders, and several medals.


Mikhailov, A. Narodnyi artist SSSR Ivan Pyr’ev. [Moscow] 1952.
Iurenev, R. Sovetskaia kinokomediia. Moscow, 1964.
Pogozheva, L. “On zhil strastiami.” Iskusstvo kino, 1968, no. 3.


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