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 Alexei German

Born:   20 June 1938
Deceased:   21 February 2013

Film Director


The Russian film director Alexei German is one of the most authoritative masters in contemporary cinema. The director’s focus on the issues of history and time reveals itself in the two most evident peculiarities of his films: they are almost all black-and-white, like the newsreels of the 1930-50s; in each of them German resorts to a method rarely used in cinema – a character’s look straight into the camera directly connects the viewer with the screen world.

Alexei Georgievich German was born on 20 June 1938 in Leningrad, into the family of the famous writer Yuri German (1910–1967).

In 1955-1960 Alexei studied at the direction faculty of the Leningrad State Theatre and Music Institute, in the workshop of the well-known film director Grigori Kozintsev.


Alexei German Alexei German’s graduation work was the first part of stage play Obyknovennoye chudo(Ordinary Wonder) by Yevgheny Schwartz with Sergei Yursky as King. When Georgy Tovstonogov saw the production he invited German to work as a film-director in the Bolshoi Drama Theater named after Gorky. Alexei worked there from 1961 to 1964.

In 1964 he turned to cinema working at Lenfilm studio as the second film director of the feature Rabochiy posyolok (Workers' Quarters) (1965) by Vladimir Vengerov. In 1967 together with Grigori Aronov he directed Sedmoy sputnik (The Seventh Companion) (1967). is next film under the title Proverka na dorogakh (Checkpoint) (1971) starring Rolan Bykov and Anatoli Solonitsyn was banned by communist authorities and was not released until 1985.


Alexei German while shooting Checkpoint The peculiar features of German’s future style can be seen in Checkpoint already: the film starts with an episode having no plot connection with the following events - close-ups of faces that do not appear in the film any more, the faces looking at us with a strange mixture of astonishment, fear, and anguish, and fascists poisoning potatoes…

The exceptional director became famous after the release of the film Dvadtsat dney bez voyny (Twenty Days Without War) (1976) after literary works by Konstantin Simonov. The leading roles are played by splendid Yuri Nikulin and Lyudmila Gurchenko. One of German’s great accomplishments was Moy drug Ivan Lapshin (My Friend Ivan Lapshin) (1984) marked with the brilliant acting of Andrei Mironov and Andrei Boltnev and honoured with a number of cinema awards. The main character Ivan Lapshin is an officer of the criminal investigation department, but the film is far from being a detective – that is not the point. The viewer gets interested in what kind of person Lapshin was, what his friends were like, what was the time they lived in.


Alexei German and Yuri Nikulin at shooting Twenty Days Without War The year 1998 saw the release of Khrustalyov, mashinu! (Khrustalyov, My Car!), the completion of which had taken several years because of financial problems. In the heat of “the doctors’ case of 1953” the medical general Klensky (played by Yuri Tsurilo) feels the danger of arrest and tries to escape, but gets caught and faces the violence of camp criminals; later, however, the general is released and is honourably escorted to save Stalin dying. In this film the concentration of material milieu and everyday details (including frightening ones) attains enormous power thus creating an expressive image of the epoch and the country.

German is also the author of scripts for other directors’ feature films, including Sadis Ryadom, Mishka! (1977) and Gibel Otrara (The Fall of Otrar) (1991). In addition to that, he played a few supporting roles in the films Sergei Ivanovich ukhodit na pensiyu (1980), Rafferty (1980), Lichnaya zhizn direktora (1981), Kanuvshee vremya (1989), Zamok (The Castle) (1994), Pribytiye poyezda (The Arrival of a Train) (1995), Maniya Zhizeli (Gisele's Mania) (1995), and Sergei Eisenstein. Avtobiografiya (Sergei Eisenstein: Autobiography) (1996).


Alexei German In 1998 Alexei German was named the People’s Artist of Russia.

His last film "Trudno byt Bogom" (Hard to be a God), based on a 1964 novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, has been in production for over 20 years. Aleksey German expected to finally show the project of his life in 2013 or in 2014 years, but the sharp deterioration of his health has not let him to finish his work.

Alexei German died on February 21, 2013 after a long illness. He was 74.



Photos taken from

Vera Ivanova and Mikhail Manykin

Tags: Alexei German Russian culture Russian cinema Russian film directors  

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