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Vladimir Nielsen is a bourgeois who created the main Soviet movie hits and was shot for espionage
Vladimir Nielsen is a bourgeois who created the main Soviet movie hits and was shot for espionage
Nielsen Vladimir Solomonovich

His life was crushed by a ruthless flywheel of repression, his name was deleted from the credits of films in which he put his whole soul. "Merry Guys", "Circus", "Volga-Volga" - he put a lot of ingenious finds into these films, although the director is another, a colleague on the set, who betrayed him and appropriated all the achievements of the talented screenwriter and cameraman. And only many years later a memorial plaque with the name of Vladimir Nielsen appeared in Moscow.

Time of first discoveries

Youth of Vladimir Nielsen. /

For the first time Volodya got into the cinema at the age of ten. He was so shocked by the miracle he saw that all night long he imagined how he would grow up and make a film himself. Since then, the boy literally fell ill with cinematography. All his free time he drew projection schemes, staged scenes he had invented in his home puppet theater. His inquisitive mind absorbed interesting details and recorded them in memory. All this valuable experience was the first steps towards the creation of cinematic masterpieces in the future.

A few years later, the son of a famous engineer in St. Petersburg, Vladimir was declared a class alien element and expelled from the university. Then the young man illegally crossed the border and settled in Berlin. He was fluent in several languages, which allowed the young man to successfully enter a technical school and receive a basic technical education. In addition, he became interested in photography and studied a lot of literature on shooting equipment.

Vladimir Nielsen, Charles Chaplin and Boris Shumyatsky

To join the ranks of the German Komsomol, Volodya took the Swedish surname Nielsen. The newly-minted “Swede” wandered through rented apartments, and once fate brought him together with the son of a worker who once sheltered the leader of the world proletariat in a hut on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. Under the influence of his roommate, Nielsen became a member of the German Communist Party. In the mid-1920s, Vladimir met young people who became his associates.

They are all united by one fiery passion - cinema. Even the disappointments of first love are fading away. It was Nielsen's friends who recommended him as a talented photographer to actress Andreeva, who at that time worked in the Soviet trade mission. Then Maria Feodorovna saw in the young man the future genius of cinema and gave a start in the future profession.

Return to Soviet paradise

At the Kremlin Wall (with Vladimir Volodin and Gr. Aleksandrov)

In the spring of 1926, Sergei Eisenstein's film Battleship Potemkin made a splash in Berlin. Vladimir was present at the show and immediately decided that he must definitely cooperate with such a talented director and learn from Eisenstein all the intricacies of filmmaking. For this, Nielsen returned to the Soviet Union and began to work on paintings alongside his teacher.

Together they shot the films "Old and New" and "October". The successful operator assistant was recommended by his guru at VGIK. In Soviet Russia, Vladimir Nielsen begins to lead an active creative and social activity along the lines of the Komsomol.

Ida Penzo

He participates in various youth societies, conducts conferences and political debates with foreign students.But he does not betray his beloved business, being engaged in the translation of educational literature on the art of camera shooting. It was Nielsen who became one of the co-authors of textbooks on the theory of cinema technology, the foreword to one of which was written by Eisenstein himself.

In 1927, a young cameraman meets his true love - the ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater Ida Penzo, an Italian by birth, and marries her. It was at this time that the first pages appear in the "gap" dossier, which will soon lead Nielsen to a tragic ending.

Filmmaking innovator

Vladimir Nielsen and Grigory Alexandrov on the set of the film

When the production of the picture "Funny Fellows" was conceived, one of the successful students of Eisenstein, Grigory Alexandrov, took up the job with particular enthusiasm. Nielsen was recommended to him as the director of the film. Thus began a long-term collaboration, or rather, a rivalry between two talented people. Vladimir Nielsen was not just an operator performing purely technical tasks.

His education, experience and natural flair of a true artist helped to give birth to new scenes and dialogues. It was he who invented the famous passage of the main character of the picture, when the swallows sit on the wires in the form of notes. The scene of the brawl of the orchestra members is also the brainchild of the operator. That the film was almost completely “made” by Nielsen, and not by Aleksandrov, was seen by the entire crew.

Then still unmarried Lyubov Orlova flirted with Grigory and Vladimir at the same time, and this very annoyed the future husband of the star. After this picture, Orlova still gave preference to Aleksandrov and became his wife. But the feeling of rivalry added to the bowl of creative envy in Aleksandrov's soul, which soon ended in tragedy for Vladimir Nielsen.

The most outstanding work of the operator was the painting "Volga-Volga". Here he independently worked on the script, staging the stunts, and directed the shooting while standing in cold water. At this time, troubles with Aleksandrov grew into serious conflicts that seriously hampered the creative process.

Order and execution

Photo from the case of Nielsen V.S

In early 1937, for his work on a documentary about Stalin, Nielsen was awarded the Order of the Badge of Honor and a personal car. After filming the Volga-Volga, when Vladimir and his wife returned from the Urals to Moscow, they settled in one of the hotel rooms. In the evening they heard a knock on the door.

Two men entered, by their appearance one could guess without words the purpose of their visit. Nielsen was not surprised by the warrant for his arrest, because by that time many of his colleagues had already disappeared in the bowels of the Gulag. There was no doubt about the identity of the person who wrote the denunciation against him.

Now the talented cameraman was reminded of his father - a "class-alien element", illegal border crossing, studies in Germany, visits to France and Hollywood as part of the Soviet delegation, and his Italian wife. Nielsen was declared a spy and shot as an enemy of the people in January 1938. His name was removed from the credits of the films the cameraman worked on.

When Nielsen's wife turned to Alexandrova for help, he refused her. And only in 1956 Vladimir Solomonovich was rehabilitated. But by that time, all his finds and discoveries were cynically appropriated by the man who ruined the life of the great master of stage and camera art.

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