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 Nikolai Batalov


Born:   November, 24th (December, 6th) 1899
Deceased:   10th November 1937

Well-known Russian film and theatre actor

      

Nikolai Batalov was born on November, 24th (on December, 6th) 1899. In 1916 he joined the troupe of Moscow Art Theatre. Batalov’s first role was that of Petya in The Green Ring, Gippius, 1916. With comedy shine, bright temperament, and terrific charm he played the role of Figaro in The Mad Day, or Marriage of Figaro after Beaumarchais.

Batalov’s powerful scenic charm, inherent optimism, keen feeling of the present, sincerity, inborn wit, and temperament were most vividly manifested in his role of the simple Russian guy Vaska Okorok in Armored Train 14-69 (1927). “Batalov creates a hot, violent, and cheerful image” – A. Lunacharsky wrote about this role (" Evening Moscow ", February 26th, 1927).

A great master of internal transformation, Batalov created a deeply satirical portrayal of the anarchist and marauder sailor Rubtsov (Blockade Vs. Ivanov) in 1929. Batalov’s other theatre roles were those of Lup Kleshnin in (Tsar Feodor Ioannovich by A.K.Tolstoy), Medvedev ( The Lower Depths), Lopakhin (The Cherry Orchard). Batalov’s last work on theatre stage was the role of Sobakevich (The Dead Souls after Gogol, 1933).

Nikolai Batalov was discovered for cinema by Yakov Protazanov - the maestro of the pre-revolutionary Russian cinema, unmistakably good at casting actors. In his sci-fi picture Aelita (1924) Batalov played the Red Army soldier Gusev, who is ready not only for world revolution, but also for interplanetary revolution. From the somewhat odd and eclectic Aelita Batalov at once stepped to the cinema classics. He played Pavel Vlasov in Vsevolod Pudovkin’s film Mother (after the novel by M. Gorky, 1926).

Warmth and humanity, the life-asserting power, so inherent in Batalov’s art, were characteristic of the chief of labour commune Sergeyev in the first Soviet sound film Road to Life (1931.)

Then he played the role of the chief of construction Lacis in Three Comrades (1935).

In the course of time Batalov got fed up with roles of the Red Army men and heroes of the Civil War. They say that he declined from the role of Petka in Chapaev , destined to become a cult movie. Afterwards he regretted.

Batalov dreamed of playing Alexander Pushkin; there remained photos of the actor wearing make-up for portraying the poet… He even wrote some sketches of the script about Pushkin. Unfortunately, this role and many others were not destined to happen.

It happened so, that Nikolai Batalov played only ten film roles. Ten roles within thirteen years… This cheerful and mighty-looking person was seriously and painfully ill. As early as 1923 Nikolai Batalov developed tuberculosis. On the 10th of November 1937 the actor died.

A year before the death of Nikolai Batalov he was undergoing treatment in Italy. One of his letters reads: “I always admired Leonardo da Vinci’s ingenious hues of the sky, the background of his Madonna, but I believed that these tones were his fancy. And now, two days back, the sky in the sunset was just like that - turquoise, greenish, and orange!”

Nikolai Batalov was buried at the Novodevich Cemetery in Moscow.

He was married to actress Olga Androvskaya (1897-1975).
His brother was the actor and director Vladimir Batalov (1902-1964).
His nephew was the actor and director Alexei Batalov (.1928).
His son-in-law was actor Pyotr Chernov (1917-1988).
 


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