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Dovzhenko () Alexander Petrovych
(18941956)

Dovzhenko () Alexander Petrovych(18941956)

Alexander Dovzhenko was a writer, producer and director of films, and is often cited as one of the most important early Soviet filmmakers, alongside Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin, whose films often celebrated the lives and work of his fellow Ukrainians.

Alexander Dovzhenko was born in the district of Viunyshche in Sosnytsia, a townlet in the Chernihiv oblast in the Russian Empire (now part of Ukraine) to Petro Semenovych Dovzhenko and Odarka Ermolaivna Dovzhenko. (His ancestors were Cossacks who settled in Sosnytsia in the eighteenth century, coming from the neighbouring province of Poltava.) Alexander was the seventh of fourteen children, but due to the horrific rate of child loss he became the oldest child by the time he turned eleven.

Although his parents were uneducated, Dovzhenko's semi-literate grandfather encouraged him to study, leading him to become a teacher at the age of 19. He escaped military service during both World War I and the Russian Revolution because of a heart condition, but did join the Communist Party in the early 1920s. He even served as an assistant to the Ambassador in Warsaw as well as Berlin. Upon his return to Ukraine in 1923, he began illustrating books and drawing cartoons in Kiev.

Dovzhenko turned to film in 1926 when he landed in Odessa. His ambitious drive led to the production of his second-ever screenplay, Vasya the Reformer (which he also co-directed). He gained greater success with Zvenigora in 1928 which established him as a major filmmaker of his era. His following "Ukraine Trilogy" (Arsenal, Earth, and Ivan), although underappreciated by contemporary Soviet critics (who found some of its realism counter-revolutionary), is his most well-known work in the West.

Although he served as a wartime journalist for the Red Army during World War II, Dovzhenko began to feel ever more oppressed by the bureaucracy of Stalin's Soviet Union. After spending several years writing, co-writing and producing films at Mosfilm Studios in Moscow, he turned to writing novels. Over a 20 year career, Dovzhenko personally directed only 7 films.

He was a mentor to the young Ukrainian filmmakers Larisa Shepitko and Sergei Parajanov. Dovzhenko died of a heart attack on November 25, 1956 in Moscow. His wife, Yulia Solntseva continued his legacy by producing films of her own and completing projects Dovzhenko was not able to create.


Ukraine, 1996, Alexander Dovzhenko

USSR, 1964, Alexander Dovzhenko

Ukraine, 2004.09.10, Sosnitsa. Alexander Dovzhenko

USSR, 1964.09.12, Kiev. 70th Birth Anniv of Dovzhenko

USSR, 1974.09.11, Kiev. 80th Birth Anniv of Dovzhenko

USSR, 1974.09.11, Moskow. 80th Birth Anniv of Dovzhenko

USSR, 1972, Dovzhenko monument in Sosnitsa

USSR, 1974, Aleksander Dovzhenko

USSR, 1978, Dovzhenko's Film Studio

USSR, 1984, Aleksander Dovzhenko

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