Elem Klimov was the People’s Artiste of Russia, the Honored Artist of RSFSR, the honorary member of the British Film Institute. He is a great master of the Soviet cinema, an outstanding film director and a public figure of worldwide recognition and the only one of our cinematographers who represented Russia in the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts. Most of his works won prestigious prizes at international film festivals.
Germanovich Klimov was born on July 9, 1933 in Stalingrad (presently Volgograd
). In 1957 he graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute and for some time worked at one of the Moscow plants. Klimov also worked at the Youth Editorial Board of the All-Union Radio and the Central Television and in the Moscow Philharmonics. The short-length film Zhenikh (The Groom)
released in 1960 became his first director's work. Already in this student's work Elem Klimov revealed his eccentricity skills. In 1964 he graduated from the Director's Faculty of the VGIK (the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography).
Klimov's first professional movie Welcome, or No Trespassing was a satirical comedy deriding Soviet red-tape. As soon as the film was produced it was labeled “anti-Soviet”. This is when the film director closely faced censorship and suppression system, which never left him alone since then.
From 1964 he became a film director of the Mosfilm Studio. Grotesque gimmicks were manifested in Klimov’s following work Adventures of a Dentist
(1965), which also roused censure by cinema officials. After a release of the movie it was shelved right away.
The year 1970 saw the release of his documentary Sport, Sport, Sport that combined chronicle and fiction material. Klimov created a full-length documentary film with feature elements. The film unusual to the Soviet viewers caused considerable interest and was highly evaluated at numerous sport film festivals.
In 1974 Elem Klimov directed the historical drama Agony
about Russia on the threshold of the February Revolution
. Against the background of absolute majority of other Soviet movies, which displayed events of this epoch in a historically inexact way, Klimov’s movie was perceived and claimed as “impudent sedition”. The film was released not before 1985.
After the tragic death of his wife Larisa Shepitko
in 1979 Elem Klimov made the documentary film Larisa
(1981) and completed the Farewell
movie started by her.
His last work – the film story Idi i smotri (aka Come and See) (1985) – proved to be a film of tremendous power and drew an enormous public response. Klimov co-authored the scenario jointly with the writer Ales Adamovich.
In the second half of the 1980s Elem Klimov was elected the first secretary of the Union of Cinematographers of the USSR, and dedicated himself to it with responsibility inherent in him. Certainly, he had ideas about new movies; thus, he conceived the film version of The Demons
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
, but the State Cinema Committee nixed the project. Then there were ideas about the movies Transformation
, About Ivan the Fool
, a film about Stalinist era, Master and Margarita
, but it did not work unfortunately.
Elem Germanovich Klimov died on October 26, 2003 in Moscow and was laid to rest at the Troyekurovsky Cemetery.