Behind the scenes of the movie fairy tale "The Deer King": Why Valentina Malyavina didn't let the director finish the film's finale
Behind the scenes of the movie fairy tale "The Deer King": Why Valentina Malyavina didn't let the director finish the film's finale

7 years ago, on November 30, 2013, the famous theater and film actor, People's Artist of the USSR Yuri Yakovlev passed away. When people talk about his film works, they usually mention the legendary films "The Hussar Ballad", "Ivan Vasilyevich Changes His Profession", "The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!" However, the actor himself did not appreciate these roles, he was much closer to other characters, such as, for example, King Deramo in the movie fairy tale "The Deer King", which is rarely remembered these days. What passions were boiling on the set and why they prevented the director from completing the film's finale - further in the review.

Yuri Yakovlev as Prince Myshkin, 1958

Yuri Yakovlev played more than 100 roles in cinema, but he received real recognition and nationwide fame already in adulthood. The first popularity came to him at the age of 30, after the role of Prince Myshkin in the film adaptation of the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Many critics still call this work one of the best in his filmography and even the only role commensurate with his talent, but he became known to the general public only after filming in the films of Eldar Ryazanov. True, the first of them - "A Man from Nowhere" - was crushed by critics to smithereens and sent to the shelf for a long time, but a year later "Hussar Ballad" was released, which turned Yuri Yakovlev into one of the most successful and sought-after Soviet actors.

Still from the film Hussar Ballad, 1962

By the time of filming in Pavel Arsenov's movie fairy tale "The Deer King", 40-year-old Yuri Yakovlev had already played more than 20 roles and was a popular artist. But all of his most famous roles were still to come. It so happened that the biggest success was his comedic roles. He was often offered to play people "from the people" and eccentric inhabitants who were not close to him in spirit. He simply could not watch his Hippolytus from The Irony of Fate and turned off the TV when the whole country was once again watching his beloved hero. Although the creative fate of Yakovlev was very successful, he himself believed that all his life he was playing completely different roles. He felt ill at ease not only in these images, but also in his era. The actor admitted: "".

Yuri Yakovlev as Steva Oblonsky in the film Anna Karenina, 1967 Yuri Yakovlev in the film The Deer King, 1969

Yuri Yakovlev really looked the most organically in the images of aristocrats, and the main role in the fairy tale "The Deer King" can probably be safely called one of those "hits" that the actor himself spoke about. He went to the shooting in Yalta in anticipation of the holiday, because director Pavel Arsenov put together a brilliant cast: Oleg Efremov, Sergey Yursky, Oleg Tabakov, a close friend of Yakovlev and his theater colleague Vladimir Shlesinger. Together with Yakovlev, his wife Irina Sergeeva went to the shooting, who later recalled: "".

Oleg Efremov in the film The Deer King, 1969 Oleg Tabakov in the film The Deer King, 1969

The atmosphere on the set was really very warm and friendly, and the shooting could have gone quickly and easily, if not for one "but". In his film based on the fairy tale of the same name by Carlo Gozzi, director Pavel Arsenova decided to star his wife, actress Valentina Malyavina, in the lead role. And on the set, such passions were played out that fairytale heroes never dreamed of.

Shot from the movie The Stag King, 1969 Pavel Arsenov and Valentina Malyavina

At that time, Pavel Arsenov was 33 years old, his most famous directorial work - "Do not part with your loved ones" and "Guest from the future" - were still ahead. Sometime in childhood, he saw the film "Vasilisa the Beautiful" and decided that he would certainly one day make a movie in this genre himself.He began his directorial career with short films. On the set of one of them - "Sunflower" - he met a young actress Valentina Malyavina. She struck him with her bright beauty and talent, and he lost his head from her. At that time, Malyavina was married to actor Alexander Zbruev, but their relationship went wrong long ago - when the actress starred in the film "Ivan's Childhood" with Andrei Tarkovsky, she had a whirlwind romance with the director.

Valentina Malyavina in the film The Deer King, 1969 Yuri Yakovlev in the film The Deer King, 1969

Malyavina accepted the courtship of Arsenov, divorced Zbruev and married a second time. The couple had a daughter, but she passed away a few weeks after birth. Each of the spouses experienced this tragedy in their own way, and they began to gradually move away from each other. "", - the actress later admitted. The Stag King was their last collaboration. It was said that the director staged this tale especially for his wife. He hoped that working together would bring them closer together.

Valentina Malyavina in the film The Deer King, 1969 Pavel Arsenov in the film The Way to Myself, 1986

Although the atmosphere on the set was very warm, and the actors understood the director perfectly, not everything worked out right away. Pavel Arsenov said: "".

Valentina Malyavina in the film The Deer King, 1969 Yuri Yakovlev in the film The Deer King, 1969

The ending of the tale was supposed to be classic, but in the film the end was set before the main character made her choice. Many viewers noticed that the final was open. In fact, it just wasn't filmed. After 6 years of living together with Pavel Arsenov, Valentina Malyavina began an affair with actor Alexander Kaidanovsky, and for Arsenov it was a heavy blow. Obviously, at the end of filming, the actress informed her husband about this, and she and Malyavina had a fight so that she quit filming and left for Moscow, although the ending had not yet been filmed. Nevertheless, the director completed work on the film, and the open ending gave the viewer an opportunity to independently draw conclusions and understand what was not said.

Valentina Malyavina in the film The Deer King, 1969

The success of the film among the audience was ensured not only by the brilliant acting of the actors, but also by the wonderful music of Mikael Tariverdiev. And the vocal parts of the heroine Valentina Malyavina were performed by the young Alla Pugacheva, for whom this was the first joint work with Tariverdiev. Later, the singer remembered the composer with gratitude: "".

Valentina Malyavina in the film The Deer King, 1969 Shot from the movie The Stag King, 1969

The further fate of the actress was tragic: The unhappy star of Valentina Malyavina.

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