“Gogol, the closest” in Vienna

By Fidan Aliyeva

The presentation of the 2010-released movie “Gogol, the closest” directed by Soviet and Russian actress and film director Natalia Bondarchuk was held last week in the city’s Burg Kino.

The evening was devoted to Ukranian-born Russian dramatist and novelist Nikolai Vasiliyevich Gogol, with the participation of the Russian and Austrian embassies, and was organised by the Ukranian Embassy to Vienna and also became the starting point for the next 2012 3D movie of Bondarchuk “Secrects of the Snow Queen” – some scenes of which will be shot in Slovakia, Munich and in Vienna.

The basic plot of Natalia Bondarchuk’s film tries to discover the truth about Gogol’s spiritual sufferings. Gogol was among few literary reformists who were raising taboo themes of their times through their writings. The death of his friend Aleksandr Pushkin was reflected in Gogol’s further works. He became anxious about his condition as a poet who candidly talked about the Russian social system and bureaucracy in a sarcastic tone. Later on, he decided to live abroad and spend most of his years travelling while in exile. Soon, his apprehension that his criticism would lead him to the same end as Pushkin had affected his state of mind which later affected his health. He suffered from the fear to be judged which forced him to burn the second volume of his last work “Dead Souls”. After suffering a phase of deep depression he died.

Natalia Sergeyevna Bondarchuk – originally from Ukrain and with a Russian passport, as well as a little bit of Austrian blood in her – is very laconic in every day life. Her works talk for her, and her popularity is not her father’s outstanding service in the Soviet cinematography, but her father’s talent which was developing in her from an early age. As the daughter of the famous Soviet Ukrainian actor Sergei Bondarchuk and actress Inna Makarova, she has also contributed much to Russian cinema, both as an actress and as a director of several movies. She is best known for her role as “Hari” in Andrei Tarkovsky’s famous movie “Solaris”. She was a director of “Living Rainbow”, “Bambi’s Childhood”, “Bambi’s Youth”, “God, hear my Prayers”, “Pushkin: The last Duel”, “Love and Truth of Fyodor Tutchev”.

Literature is placed in an honourable place in Natalia’s life and therefore poets and literary themes often form the core to her filmography. She grew up among poets. When she was a child, her grandmother poetess, always took her with her to visit her poet friends and Natalia spent most of her days listening to tales and poems. This is where Natalia’s passion for literature comes from.

The film director explained¬† about the title “‘Gogol, the closest’,” because “it is about some one who spent his last years searching for the truth of God and he tried to become close to Him. That is the reason for ‘the closest’.”

“It can be finally called a great job after several difficulties were encountered during filming,” comments scenarist of the movie and director Natalia Bondarchuk in her introductory speech in Burg Kino. Natalia Bondarchuk has stated before in press conferences that “the crew had several technical problems which just delayed shootings. The most problematic part however were the finances. The movie budget is near the one million US dollar mark, which is scant money according to today’s film budgets. But in the end, I am proud of our work regardless of anything, and I will be even prouder if this movie causes tears.”

It is a successful family project, the music was composed by Natalia’s son Ivan Burlikin and her daugther Maria Burlaeva, both from her second marriage. Burlaeva had the role of one of two females who played a crucial role in Nikolai Gogol’s life. Among the actors are also famous Russian actors Evgeniy Redko playing Gogol, Anastasiya Zavorotnuk playing a woman with whom Gogol had a platonic love affair, Sergei Bezrukov as Aleksandr Pushkin and others.