In memory of Lyudmila Gurchenko
A star of Soviet and Russian cinema, an idol of millions of viewers has left her fans forever. Famous Russian actress Lyudmila Gurchenko died in Moscow at the age of 75.
Parts in over 80 films and a dozen theatrical plays, film directing and song-writing, autobiographical books and recordings of songs performed in such a familiar voice for many – this is the result of Lyudmila Gurchenko’s artistic life.
Her personal life was not very easy. Like for all fellow-countrymen of her generation, Lyudmila Gurchenko’s early years were marred by the Second World War. She saw the war at close quarters in her native city of Kharkov occupied by the Nazis. Her memories tortured her all her life, but this was the reason why the actress was so convincing in war-time dramas, for example in Alexey German’s film “Twenty Days without War”. However, Lyudmila Gurchenko’s first breathtaking success turned out to be her curse. At the very beginning of her career she starred in Eldar Ryazanov’s musical comedy “Carnival Night” and for many years after that she was labelled as a superficial, music-hall-type actress, not worthy of serious dramatic parts.
As a person of bright talent and tremendous willpower, Lyudmila Gurchenko knew how to overcome and, as professionals put it, use to the best advantage all of life’s circumstances. This special professional skill helped her to become a real star. This is the opinion of Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov who gave the actress the star role in one of his best films “Five Evenings”, a psychological drama:
“Gurchenko amazingly combined her acting with her personality. She could not act without adapting the part to some of the features of her character. When the connection clicked it was always a pleasure. I always enjoyed looking at her and working with her. She always got worked up by how people in the studio responded to her and then she took wing and soared. It was a marvellous sight.”
Lyudmila Gurchenko was a rare versatile actress. She possessed a wide range of masterly performance, from virtuosic musical clowning to strong dramatic qualities. She had no equals in this versatility, believes Russian film director Pyotr Todorovsky:
“The number one star of our culture - in cinema, theatre and variety art – has left us, - says Pyotr Todorovsky. – Everything was in her power. This great woman could win the hearts of any audience.”
“She was absolutely unrestrained, she was the embodiment of character on the set”, says famous film director Andrei Konchalovsky, who gave Lyudmila Gurchenko the main part in the “Siberiade” film epic. Lyudmila Gurchenko also stood out for her inexhaustible love of life and stubborn resistance to age. She kept changing her outfits and hair-styles for even more elegant ones, nurtured new artistic plans and worked until the last moment of her life. Last year saw the release of her film “Motley Twilight” in which Lyudmila Gurchenko was an actress, the author and performer of the songs, a co-script writer and a co-director.
“We must all learn from such actresses as Lyudmila Gurchenko, otherwise we will all drown in banality. We must remember and learn”. These words belong to her colleague, well-known actor Valentin Gaft. Indeed, Lyudmila Gurchenko will remain in the memory of many people as an example of sincerity and professionalism.