28 August 2015

Elina Bystritskaya

Actress Elina Bystritskaya (1928) was one of the most beautiful women of the Soviet cinema. Her most famous role is Aksinya in the epic film version of Mikhail Sholokhov's novel Tikhiy Don/And Quiet Flows the Don (1957-1958) by Sergei Gerasimov.

Elina Bystritskaya
Russian postcard, 1966.

Elina Bystritskaya
Russian postcard.

Socialist Realist Film

Elina Avraamovna Bystritskaya was born in 1928 in Kiev, Soviet Union (now: Ukrain). Her father, Avraam Petrovich Bystritsky, was a notable medical doctor in Kiev, and her mother, Esther Isaakovna, worked as a medical administrator.

Young Elina worked as a medical nurse helping her parents in a Soviet military hospital during World War II. She was decorated by the Soviet State for her contribution.

From 1948-1953 she attended the Kiev Theatrical Institute, graduating in 1953 as an actress.

Two years later, she co-starred with the later director Sergei Bondarchuk in Neokonchennaya povest/Unfinished Story (Fridrikh Ermler, 1955) an archetypal Socialist Realist film. With her role as a doctor in this film, she shot to fame in the Soviet Union.

She was acclaimed as the Best Soviet actress of the year, and was a member of the Soviet delegation in Paris for the Week of Soviet Film there.

Elina Bystritskaya
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 3975, 1962. Retail price: 8 kop.

Elina Bystritskaya
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 4490, 1964. Retail price: 8 kop.

The Russian equivalent of Gone with the Wind

A year later, in 1956, Elina Bystritskaya was handpicked by writer Mikhail Sholokhov to co-star as Aksinya opposite Pyotr Glebov in the trilogy Tikhiy Don/And Quiet Flows the Don (Sergei Gerasimov, 1957-1958).

The three-part, 330 minutes lasting, epic film was released in 1957 (parts 1 and 2) and 1958 (part 3). It was based on Sholokhov's classic novel on life at the Don river valley directly before and after the arrival of communism.

Proud and red-blooded Don Cossack Grigori (Glebov) comes home from the First World War and has a crush on dark-haired Aksinya, but she is already married - an unhappy marriage. Angered by the adulterous affair, Grigori's parents arrange a marriage with a village bride, but even after being married, Grigori cannot stop seeing Aksinya.

The tragedy is set against a background of great historic upheaval, including big battle scenes: the First World War, the Revolution and the Civil War, making it the Russian equivalent of Gone with the Wind.

In 1958, Bystritskaya turned to theatre work in the Maly Theatre in Moscow, and her screen appearances grew sporadic. Her later films include Vsyo ostayotsya lyudyam/Everything Remains for the People (Georgi Natanson, 1963), and Bravye parni (Nikolai Zaseyev, 1993).

In 1978 she was named People's Artist of the Year. She also taught acting at the Shchepkin school (Shchepkin Theatre School), and at the Soviet State Theatrical Institute (GITIS). Elina Bystritskaya lives in Moscow, Russia.

Elina Bystritskaya
Small Romanian collectors card.

Elina Bystritskaya in Tikhiy Don (1957)
Russian card. Photo: combination of publicity stills for Tikhiy Don/And Quiet Flows the Don (Aleksandr Gerasimov, 1957).

Elina Bystritskaya
Russian postcard, no. A 506112. Price: 75 Kop. Released in an edition of 40,000 postcards.

Elina Bystritskaya in Tikhiy Don (1957)
Russian postcard. Photo: compilation with still from Tikhiy Don/And Quiet Flows the Don (1957).

Love scenes from Tikhiy Don/And Quiet Flows the Don (1957-1958).Source: Elfiya (YouTube).

Sources: Steve Shelokhonov (IMDb), Russian Film Blogspot, Wikipedia, and IMDb.


M. A. Leal said...

Beautiful cards, beautiful blog, beautiful idea! What an extroordinary concept! Thank you for sharing.

Bob of Holland said...

Thank you, Marcia. You're welcome.

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