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More than 45 years have passed since the release of the picture by Georgy Danelia, and he still makes the audience rejoice and sad, empathize with the heroes and argue about how right each of them is in his perception of reality. Surprisingly, Afonya turned out to be so successful that critics, spectators, and even actors and directors could appreciate it. But the process of making the film was very difficult.
The unity and struggle of two creators
Screenwriter Alexander Borodyansky, after finishing writing his story about Athos, showed the finished version to a friend. He immediately got the idea to send the script to the All-Union competition for works about the working class. The author himself doubted very much, because Afonya was not at all an example for the workers: a grabber and a grabber, and even a drinker.
And yet the tragicomedy then won the first prize, and Alexander Borodyansky got the opportunity to see the embodiment of his script on the screen. The State Film Agency decided to shoot the picture not in Kiev at the Dovzhenko film studio, as originally planned, but at Mosfilm. Instead of Leonid Osyka, Georgy Danelia was appointed as a director, it was also decided to replace the leading actor. In Kiev, it was about Borislav Brondukov playing the main character, but Danelia had her own vision of the image of Afoni.
At the same time, Kiev filmmakers were offended at Borodyansky, who decided that the scriptwriter had changed his mind to shoot a film at the Dovzhenko film studio, and Danelia was unhappy that Borodyansky did not want to shoot at Mosfilm. Borislav Brondukov was also upset, who was deprived of the opportunity to play the main role. But winning the competition served as the basis for the decision to be made by the USSR State Committee for Cinematography.
After meeting with the director, the young scriptwriter no longer doubted that he would see a very modified story on the screen. Georgy Danelia appreciated the script, but the sad ending did not satisfy him. When the director's version of the script was ready, Danelia asked Borodyansky if he liked the result. Hearing the tortured "Normal", the director understood everything and immediately, having apologized, sent the finished script to the trash can. They began to rewrite each scene anew.
The scriptwriter and director had different ideas about the future of the film. Alexander Borodyansky presented the film in minor key, but Danelia initially wanted to shoot the picture in an optimistic tone.
Actors and musicians
Georgy Danelia saw the title role as a charming and textured actor who could win the heart of a naive girl. Of the three applicants, he decided to stop at Leonid Kuravlev, although the role of Afoni could be played by the Pole Daniel Olbrykhsky or Vladimir Vysotsky. But the first two actors in the image of the main character could not be forgiven for the fact that they forgave Kuravlyov as a result. The audience sincerely fell in love with Athos, and this was exactly the effect that the director wanted to achieve.
For the role of Katya, Georgy Danelia approved Evgenia Simonova without samples, but he had to agree to the terms of filming as soon as possible. At that time, the actress was already involved in the film "The Lost Expedition", and Alexander Yablochkin, the director of the film, managed to take her away from Bashkiria for only three days.It was during this time that Danelia shot all the scenes with the participation of cute Katya. At the same time, the work was carried out around the clock, and Evgenia Simonova managed to sleep only in the car during the movement of the film crew from place to place.
Borislav Brondukov, who played Fedul, unexpectedly for the director became a real favorite of the audience. He was very organic in this image. They even tried not to let him into the restaurant where one of the scenes was being filmed, and the doorman was already ready to send the "violator" to the police. Fortunately, an assistant director appeared on the doorstep in time, saving the situation.
In the film "Afonya" for the first time the song "You or I" by the group "Time Machine" sounded to the general public. The performers could have starred in the film themselves, but they made the impression of unreliable musicians who could well disrupt the shooting and not arrive on the set on time. Therefore, Danelia decided to play it safe and remove the Araks group instead of the Time Machine itself.
According to the script, at the end of the picture, Afonya takes a ticket for a random flight. When a policeman checks the hero's documents, a cheerful guy looks at him from the photo in his passport, but in real life our hero looks extinct, tired and dull. The final scene in this form did not satisfy the director at all.
And Danelia decided to insert frames with Katya appearing in front of the hero and saying: "Athanasius, someone called me, and I decided it was you!" Some critics considered such an ending too primitive, but the audience accepted it with enthusiasm.
The director and actors received letters in sacks, and George Danelia got one in which the woman accused the director of the implausibility and excessive charm of the protagonist. She even asked if the “companion director” had ever slept with a drunken plumber? Georgy Nikolaevich even wrote a reply to the lady, in which he admitted that he had never slept with plumbers at all.
Despite the criticism and too banal a happy ending, the audience continues to watch "Athos", laughing and upset along with its heroes.
The irrelevant plumber Afanasy became one of the best film images of Leonid Kuravlev, but his success the film was indebted not only to him, but also to the female performers. For some of them, after that, their careers took off, while for others Afonya remained the only peak in their creative biography. Which actresses have struggled with alcohol addiction for many years, who emigrated to the United States, and who became hostage to one image?
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