Russian actor and writer Vasily Shukshin is also known as a screenwriter and movie director. Vasily Shukshin was born on 25 July 1929 to a peasant family in the village of Srostki in Altai Krai, USSR. To become a true Russian writer, such as Vasily Shukshin, one need to be born in the Altai, in a peasant family, survive the arrest of his father, desperate mother, hungry childhood during the war years, to work on construction sites and factories, to serve in the Navy, to know people from inside of Russia.
In 1949 Shukshin served as a sailor in the Baltic Fleet, and then on the Black Sea. It was there that he first tried to write stories. In 1953 he was discharged from the Navy, and returned to the village of Srostki.
Private life. Maria Ivanovna Shumskaya, Shukshin’s first wife, has remained his only legal wife, since they didn’t get divorced.
In 1963, love affair between Vasily Shukshin and famous poetess Bella Akhmadulina was the most gossiped about. Vasily Shukshin even shot her in his first film (1964) ‘There Is Such a Lad’, Bella Akhmadulina played a journalist. But after a few months, their romance ended safely, and fate brought Shukshin to another woman – Victoria Sofronova.
At that time Victoria Sofronova was 33 years old, was divorced and worked as an editor at the magazine “Moscow”. Here’s what she says about those days “We, with friends were in a cafe. Booked a table, and suddenly there comes Shukshin. With Bella Akhmadulina. It was their farewell party. With them were even Andrei Tarkovsky and his wife. Coincidentally or not, but we ended up with Shukshin face to face. And the whole evening were staring into each other’s eyes. I had just got divorced, had no children…We lived together, but Shukshin was often on the road, on the set. One day he invited me to his home in Srostki, Altai. The mother and sister of Shukshin were strict but good. Until I and Shukshin were together, they maintained a relationship with me. Then something happened with Vasya, he lost interest. I knew that we would soon part. I told him about it. And soon got pregnant… ”
Apparently, the first serious rift in their relationship occurred in the summer of 1964, when Shukshin went to Sudak to the shooting of the film “What it is, the sea?” (Directed by E. Bocharov).
From 1964 to 1967 Vasily Shukshin was married to actress Lydia Alexandrova (better known as Lydia Chaschina by the name of her second husband).
Meanwhile, February 12, 1965 Victoria Sofronova bore a girl. She was named Katya. On hearing this, Shukshin came to the hospital. After a few days Shukshin took Victoria with the child from the maternity hospital. Victoria knew that her beloved met another woman, and immediately ordered him to make the final choice. Shukshin couldn’t make a choice. He proceeded to come to her and to the child, but the warm relations between them were gone.
Shukshin and Lydia Fedoseyeva started living together. When Maria was born (in 1968), he gave up drinking for a while. Children rescued him. For 10 years of their family life he drank three times, maybe five, explained Lydia Fedoseyeva. A year after the birth of Maria, was born another girl – Olga. This good news caught Shukshin in the vicinity of Vladimir on the set of the next film – “Strange People”.
“The Red Snowball Tree.” Work on this film began in the spring of 1973, in the Vologda region, under Belozyorsk. This film is closer to the drama about of criminals. The main hero Yegor Prokudin gets out of prison, decides to go to the village where lives Luba – blue-eyed stranger with whom he corresponded. In fact it is necessary to wait a bit and look around. But life in the village destroys all plans of Yegor, and he decides to permanently break with the past. Now he has friends, work. He loves Luba. But Yegor’s criminal friends from the past can’t cope with his happiness and kill him.
The film “The Red Snowball Tree” was released in Russia (in the Soviet Union) in 1974, and literally shook the audience. Without exaggeration, nothing like this had ever been filmed in the Soviet film industry.
At the VII All-Union Film Festival in Baku in April 1974 “The Red Snowball Tree” was awarded the main prize – the first time in the practice of the domestic film forums. Moreover, the jury specifically reserved their decision, “noting the distinctive, bright talent of the writer, director and actor Vasily Shukshin”.
In addition to this award, the film in the future will bring a whole bunch of others: Polish critics prize “Warsaw siren-73”, the prize of the festival in West Berlin, and the prize-FEST 75 in Yugoslavia.
They Fought for Their Country, 1975, last film of Russian actor Vasily Shukshin:
Shukshin died in his sleep, on October 2, 1974. “From the heart failure,” – said the doctors. After the death people rumored about his death, that he had died of poison, somebody helped him. These rumors have been circulating even in the cinematic medium: Bondarchuk himself once said that for some time believed that Shukshin was poisoned. But these rumors no real confirmation was ever found.
Lidiya Fedoseyeva-Shukshina: “I’m sure, that night there was a murder. What Vasya (Vasily Shukshin) feared that lately. He showed me a list of his relatives who died a violent death. He was afraid to share their fate. He had premonition. According to this list, at different times was killed his father, seven uncles and two cousins. “Lord, let me get back from filming! God, grant that nothing would happen!” Happened. When at different levels was stated that he did not survive of a heart attack, it makes me sick. Vasily never complained of heart. Just before the shooting “They fought for Their Motherland”, Bondarchuk arranged Vasily for examination at the best hospital. Doctors did not find any problems with his heart. I still keep the cardiogram.”
People saying goodbye to Vasily Makarovich at the funeral, put red bunches of kalina (Red Snowball Tree) into his coffin. There were scarlet berries, under which relatives found a lot of crosses, icons and nodules. A lot of Russians passed near the coffin, and they put into it the most precious.