Mikhail Chiaureli

Active - 1926 - 1958  |   Born - Feb 6, 1894   |   Died - Oct 3, 1974   |   Genres - Historical Film, Drama, Epic, War

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The films of Georgian director Mihkail Chiaureli reflected his perfectionism in their technical skill, attention to detail, and strong, dramatic narratives. Chiaureli began his career in the 1920s with some well-made work, but he did not become famous until the late '30s, when he released the first in a series of patriotic dramas glorifying Josef Stalin, whose idolatrous tone mirrored the growing personality cult surrounding the Communist leader. Originally a sculptor who had also worked as a locksmith, set decorator, illustrator, and stage actor, Chiaureli helped found the Theater of Revolutionary Satire in Georgia in 1921. Shortly thereafter, Chiaureli entered the cinema as an actor in Ivan Perestiani's Arsen Georgiashvili. Chiaureli then went to Germany to perfect his sculpting skill and remained there until 1924, when he returned to Georgia to establish the Georgian Theater of Music Comedy. He would serve as their artistic chief and director until 1941.

Chiaureli directed his first film in 1928, V Posledniy Chas/The Last Hour; a short piece about the Civil War, only a few Soviet film historians have seen it. He made his feature directorial debut with Pirveli Korneti Streshniovi/First Lieutenant the same year. During this period, Chiaureli was working for Georgia film studio Goskinprom Gruzii (now Gruziafilm Studios) and most of his works promoted modern Soviet ideologies by satirically contrasting them with more traditional Georgian views. Though his initial works received favorable response, Chiaureli hit his stride after sound films became common, and in 1935 he was awarded the Order of Lenin. In 1938, after garnering considerable critical acclaim for The Last Masquerade and Arsena/Arson (1937), Chiaureli made the first of his Stalin films, Velikoe Zarevo/They Wanted Peace (1938). His next two, Klyatva/The Vow (1946) and the two-part Padenie Berlina/The Fall of Berlin (1949), portrayed Stalin as almost godlike. Chiaureli continued making movies about his hero until 1951. Between 1950 and 1960, the filmmaker lectured regularly at Moscow's VGIK. Following Stalin's death, Chiaureli 's output became increasingly sparse and toward the end of his career, he turned to making short films. His daughter, Sofiko Chiaureli, is a popular stage and film actress.