To 90th Anniversary of Birth of Georgy Sadovnikov

To 90th Anniversary of Birth of Georgy Sadovnikov

On April 27, Georgy Sadovnikov, the author of the script for the kindest and most touching Soviet comedy Big School-Break would have turned 90. From the first show this TV miniseries became truly popular, and over the years the love of the audience has only grown. By the way, this year Big School-Break also has its own anniversary as the film crew, headed by director Alexei Korenev, began shooting exactly half a century ago.

I was lucky enough to meet this remarkably modest and friendly person more than once. I won’t hide that I was bursting with curiosity to personally meet the creator of Big School-Break who had given us the fantastic image of the teacher Severov, the hero of the cult TV series. A few years ago, after Georgy passed away, the Superjob Research Center conducted a poll on the eve of Teacher's Day asking voters whom they thought today's teachers should look up to. One thousand representatives of the economically active population of the country took part in an open poll.

So, 22% of the most beloved movie characters, teachers of history, voted for the kind and absolutely naive Nestor Petrovich Severov, and 17% - for the true Soviet intellectual Ilya Semenovich Melnikov from the movie We'll Live Till Monday. Incidentally, the creator of the image of Nestor Petrovich himself also began his career as a history teacher in a school in Krasnodar. The process of creation of the so popular Big School-Break was not easy: just before the start of filming instead of a two-part film it was decided to make a three-part film, and then a four-part film.

“I spun out of thin air everything I could. The story was small,” said the writer, who did not have much experience in the film industry. “Trust me I don't know what to write anymore. I was persuaded under the threat that because of film overspending the money would be deducted from cameraman Anatoliy Mukasey's salary. So, the final variant of the script was very different from the original story “I'm Coming to People.” By the way, when I said in a conversation that the fantastic deeds of Nestor Petrovich sometimes knock for a loop and that such things do not happen in life, Sadovnikov admitted that he actually copied the image of himself, except that he is still more phlegmatic than Severov.

...We were sitting in Sadovnikov's apartment in a 12-story building on the corner of Malaya Gruzinskaya Street and Bolshaya Tishinsky Lane. He treated his guest with dumplings en garcon and leisurely told us that he moved here in 1966 from Skaterniy Alley together with his wife Irina, his son, and his cat Vasily, who, by the way, was widely known in the literary community. Vasily became famous due to the fact that he responded to the word “meat” in three languages: Russian, French and Italian.

“The thing is,” Sadovnikov said smiling, “I got him as a kitten in Italian-French family. He was brought from Paris, and one writer even wrote a story about him. Maybe that is why he had a nobleman's respectable and strict appearance, so that my little son always called him Uncle Vasya. The more so because the cat simply adored the Roquefort cheese, which I constantly fed him out of respect for the cat's virtues.

Georgy Sadovnikov also shared that his floor was considered a “dissident floor” in those years. His neighbors were literary scholar Arkady Belenkov, as well as writer and public figure Alexey Kostirin, teacher of the disgraced Major General of the Soviet Armed Forces, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group Peter Grigorenko. The whole cream of the then “dissidence” visited Sadovnikov: Litvinov, Solzhenitsyn and others. When Solzhenitsyn needed to call him, there was a knock at Sadovnikov's door as it was clear that Belenkov's phone was tapped. Moreover, Belenkov did not blonk when he said: “Alexander Isaevich needs to call, but my phone is not working for some reason.”

“I pretended not to understand anything. I let them into my apartment.”

“And it didn't affect you in any way?”

“There was a stupid denunciation about me to the police department, saying that I was an American dissident. Ordinary CIA agents Vasily Aksenov, Vladimir Maksimov, Georgy Vladimirov, and Vladimir Voinovich came to my apartment. In this sense, my apartment is like a museum. Quite a few famous people have been here.”

On another occasion, when we met again, Sadovnikov gave me a volume of his new signed novel, The Snail's Swift Running, still smelling of fresh paint: “To the man who first informed the world of the imminent appearance of this book. In doing so, he repaid the journalist who had mentioned it in a recent interview.”

He also shared the story “My Classmate,” dedicated to Vasily Aksenov, a fellow student at the Kazan school, which he had just created, which has not yet seen the light of day. I'm afraid to make a mistake, but in my opinion it hasn't been published yet. Therefore, I believe the reader will be curious about a fragment from it, which easily recognizes the handwriting of the master, officially not considered a humorist, but possessing the art of irony, often turning into sarcasm, which, according to critics, is almost his most important artistic weapon.

“In those years, gaiety and jokes were a protective dome against the ideological nastiness that pervaded the atmosphere. We teased each other even in the pages of our books. Aksenov used Gladilin's and my surnames in John Green, the Untouchable. I remember the premiere of the movie in the House of Writers Vasiliy Aksenov wrote the script. At the film's finale, some policeman calls out in Aksenov's voice: “Gladilin and Sadovnikov, take the prisoners away! This caused a stir in the hall, Vladimir Maximov, who was sitting next to me, muttered grudgingly: “You've got some nerve! Is this any way to treat art?!”

Volodya was friends with Aksenov, but, strangely enough, he was conservative and disapproved of his youth jackets and jeans, while he bought cheap, “respectable” suits at thrift stores when he had the money, which did not happen to him often. He also did not like the “free and unpolished” style of Aksenov's stories and novels.

“I can imagine how Yura Kazakov, reading Aksenov, grinds his teeth,” he said.

Maksimov was wrong. Yura was a brilliant follower of the Russian classical tradition. He had a wide literary taste, he enjoyed reading American Faulkner, German Remarque and Vasya's prose. I heard it from Kazakov himself, having lived next to him for an entire summer in the Abramtsevo dacha settlement. By the way, Aksenov himself came there in his green Volga, and I saw how deeply he and Kazakov liked each other.

In addiction, they were also brought together by a certain common past. Some time in the 1960s, Vasya and Jura, along with Viktor Konetzky, went to Odessa, intending to make together a script for a maritime movie comedy. In fact, it was probably the professional sailor Konetzky who was the initiator of this venture. Settling in a hotel room on Deribasovskaya, the writers' artel passionately celebrated the coming creative collaboration for the third day in the raw which turned into a daily binge drinking. Vasily and Yuri realized that cooperation in this form would not lead to good, and returned to Moscow, with Victor, the most prolific drinker, remaining on the battlefield.

Surprisingly, in the end, as a result of some new combinations , this ridiculous and adventurous story turned into a wonderful movie Striped Trip, but Aksenov and Kazakov no longer had the slightest relation to it. However, if we turn to the genre of absurdity, we can say that they stand at the origins of this masterpiece.”

Returning to the script of Big School-Break, created by Georgy Sadovnikov, I want to quote the words of the classic Leo Tolstoy: “Nothing brings people together like a good, harmless laughter.” It seems that Sadovnikov brilliantly coped with this task with all his works, including Big School-Break.

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