Shukshin, Vasilii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shukshin, Vasilii Makarovich


Born July 25, 1929, in the village of Srostki, Biisk Raion, Altai Krai; died Oct. 2,1974, in the stanitsa (large cossack village) of Kletskaia, Volgograd Oblast; buried in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer, motion-picture director, and actor. Honored Art Worker of the RSFSR (1969). Member of the CPSU from 1955.

Shukshin, the son of a peasant, graduated from the directing department of the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in 1960. His stories first appeared in print in 1959, and in 1963 he published the collection Country Dwellers.

The film There’s a Certain Fellow was made from a screenplay by Shukshin in 1964. The hero, who was typical of Shukshin’s early works, attracted the author by his ingenuousness, his rejection of formality in human relationships, and his great vitality. With time, Shukshin’s view of his heroes grew more complex. He openly expressed his opinion of ruffians and troublemakers and harshly criticized “phantom people” and demagogues and bureaucrats who skillfully find their place in society. This is particularly true of the short-story collection There in the Distance (1968) and the film An Unfortunate Acquaintance (Pechkilavochki, 1973).

Shukshin’s deep interest in the expansive Russian character was reflected throughout the novel of revolutionary history The Liubavins (1965; film version entitled The End of the Liubavins, 1972), in the cinematic novel about Stepan Razin I Have Come to Give You Freedom (1971), and in several cycles of short stories, for example, Characters (1973), which served as the basis of the films Your Son and Brother (1966), and Strange Folks (1971).

In several of his works, Shukshin dealt with the incompatibility of the human soul with the spiritually empty petit bourgeois mentality. He raised the theme to the height of artistic expression in the film Red the Rosetree (1973), which he directed using his own screenplay and playing the leading role himself. Other films he acted in were Two Fedors, I Ask for the Floor, and They Fought for the Homeland.

Shukshin’s style as a director is distinguished by the realistic rendering of texture, the use of details of everyday life, and psychological depth. His films combine these qualities with a poetic perception of the Russian countryside and the people who live there in harmony. Shukshin devoted considerable attention to the world’s diverse ethnic and sociopsychosocial elements and to cultural and moral differentiation within modern society, a phenomenon that reflects the complex problems encountered in life.

Shukshin received the State Prize of the USSR for his performance as Chernykh in S. Gerasimov’s film By the Lake (1971). In 1976 he was posthumously awarded the Lenin Prize. He was also a recipient of the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.


Zemliaki. Moscow, 1970.
Izbr. proizv., 2nd ed., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1976.


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“Zhiznennyi material, poisk khudozhnika, avtorskaia kontseptsiia. (Obsuzhdaem Kalinu krasnuiu: kinopovest’ i fil’m V. Shukshina.).” Voprosy literatury, 1974, no. 7.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.