Vladimir Vysotsky is probably known more as a singer than an actor, but for years he dominated the Soviet stage and screen with his commanding presence. His first performance was in Sverstnitsy (1959), or Teenagers. His last film was Little Tragedies, based on a series of stories by Pushkin. But, he is probably best known for the mini-series, The Meeting Place Cannot be Changed, in which he played a tough-minded detective in 1930s Moscow tracking down an elusive criminal gang, He also starred in this A Bad Good Man, and adaptation of Chekhov’s The Duel from 1973.
Sometime back, Russian television paid tribute to Vysotsky in a birthday retrospective hosted by Marina Vladi. They were married for 13 years before alcohol and morphine proved too much for his system to take. It was a bittersweet retrospective, which included commentaries by friends that pointed out the highs and lows in his truncated career. Equally at home on the stage and screen, his last performance was in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. He ealry had a memorable role in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.
Vysotsky had long run afoul of Soviet authorities, who did their best to keep Marina Vladi and him apart, as she spent most of her time in France. But they did come together in New York, where he held a memorable concert. By this point, he was well known outside the Soviet Union but it was the first time Americans got an opportunity to hear him sing. You don’t need to understand Russian to feel the emotion in his songs. He had the same impact on Soviet music in the 60s and 70s that Dylan had in America, but most of his recordings never saw the light of day.
Vysotksy is now the subject of a feature length film that chronicles his last four days. It was released early this month and in two weeks grossed more than any other Russian film this year, a testimony to his continued popularity not only in Russia but throughout Eastern Europe. Hard to imagine anyone capturing Vystoksy but Sergei Bezrukov certainly looks the part.
Here is a tribute to the great Russian bard and his lovely wife spanning the decades. Quite a few omissions like Dangerous Tour (1969), in which Vysotsky plays a cabaret conductor in late Tsarist Russia. He uses the traveling show as a front for his Boshevism. It is played for comic effect with a great number of song and dance routines.Read less