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Nonna Mordyukova, one of the most popular actresses of Soviet/Russian cinema.

Great Russian women-movie-stars

Nonna Mordyukova

Nonna Viktorovna Mordyukova was one of the most popular actresses of Soviet Russian cinema; a bright, integral and whole-hearted person, she stands out as a symbolic figure in modern Russian cinema art. In her roles she incarnated the best features of whole generations of strong Russian women.

Nonna (Noyabrina) Viktorovna was born on November 25, 1925 into a large family in the Cossack village of Konstantinovskaya, Donetsk Region, Ukraine. Nonna spent her childhood in a settlement were her mother worked as chairwoman of kolkhoz (collective farm). In 1946 Nonna Mordyukova entered the Actors' Faculty of VGIK and studied there under Boris Bibikov and Olga Pyzhova.

Nonna Mordyukova played her debut film role, which at once brought her official recognition and nationwide people's love, in Sergei Gerasimov's film Molodaya gvardiya (The Young Guard) (1948) featuring her as Uliana Gromova, a heroine of the Red Don underground. she was awarded the USSR State Prize.

Another success was Mikhail Shvejtser's film Chuzhaya rodnya ("Other People's Relatives") (1955), where she played her role of Stesha Ryashkina with great veracity of folk intonations and village manners. The film became a landmark event in cinema of the 1950s and in life of Nonna Viktorovna.

In a range of roles, including those episodic, and yet memorable, bright and intense, the acting theme of Nonna Mordyukova was developing: the theme of a simple and strong woman of hard fate. Her roles inspired playwright Budimir Metalnikov to write for her "Prostaya istoriya "("A Simple Story") (1960) (film director Yuri Yegorov). In this film Mordyukova played one of her best roles - young widow Sasha Potapova who is all of a sudden burdened with chairmanship in a poorly performing collective farm. The actress conveys the drama and hardships of the "bright way" from a common farm worker to a chairwoman, the bitterness of hopeless love and transformation of the soul, gaining dignity.

In comedies Mordyukova very aptly and vividly grasped social types, be it stately, dreary-voiced tradeswoman Belotelova in "Zhenitba Balzaminova" (Balzaminov's Marriage) (1965) by Konstantin Voynov, Pristyzhnyuk in "Tridtsat tri" (33) (1965) by Georgi Daneliya. Her housing office activist in Brilliantovaya ruka (The Diamond Arm) (1968) directed by Leonid Gaidai became a mocking satire on a well-known type of an importunate female joiner.

In 1992, the name of Nonna Mordyukova awarded one of the smaller planets of the solar system.

The role of Klavida Vavilova, a robust and boisterous Red Army Commissar who has accidentally become pregnant, in Aleksandr Askoldov's "Commissar" (1967) is Mordyukova's most memorable work. The film, shot in 1966, was shelved and was only released in 1988. By that time Mordyukova was over sixty and had starred in over twenty other films. The wide critical acclaim and appreciation for what is probably her best performance came too late to have any definitive effect on her profile as an actor. She received FIPRESCI Award, Otto Dibelius Film Award, and Special Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, and Silver Spur Award (Flanders International Film Festival) for "The Comissar".

Her impressive filmography reveals, however, that while she has had the chance to work with a constellation of the best Soviet directors: Grigori Chukhrai for "Tryasina" (1978), with Eldar Ryazanov for "Railway Station for Two", and with Nikolai Gubenko for "Zapretnaya zona" (1988). She only played once in a film by Nikita Mikhalkov, who structured his village comedy-drama "Kinfolk" (1981) entirely around the personality of the actress, who had by that time established herself as an epitome of the Russian peasant woman.

During the period of perestroika, Mordyukova appeared in a number of supporting roles in a range of comedy-dramas. Similarly, she has been a highly visible presence throughout the 1990s, with supporting roles in some of the most-popular Russian features, such as Pavel Lungin's "Luna Park" (1992) and Vladimir Menshov's "Shirli-Myrli" (1995). In 1999 she played the leading role in "Mummy" (1999), directed by Denis Yevstigneyev; a family saga loosely based on a real story, mixing action, melodrama and comedy elements and spanning several decades.

After it the actress refused to act any more, since it was the age when only roles of old dames could be offered.

Reportedly, "Russian cinema goers and critics call Mordyukova one of the best actresses of the 20th century." In over fifty years of work in the cinema she has played in dozens of films, where she acted mainly as ordinary Russian women.

Nonna Mordyukova is included in top ten of the 20th century foremost actresses according to the British Cinema Encyclopaedia "Who is who".

In November 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree awarding the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, third degree, to Mordyukova.

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