Academician of The Russian Academy of Arts.
Outstanding Soviet and Russian Film Director, Screenwriter, Actor, Poet. People’s Artist of the USSR.
USSR State Prize Laureate, Vasiliev Brothers RSFSR State Prize Laureate, All-Union Film Festivals Multiple Laureate.
Companion of the Merit for the Fatherland (2nd and 3rd class), two Orders of the Red Banner of Labor, Order of Friendship of Peoples, Order of the Key of Friendship, Order of Arts and Letters (France), Order of Honor (Georgia).
Eldar Ryazanov was born on November 18, 1927 in Kuybyshev (now Samara). During the war his family happened to be in Nizhny Tagil. Then the Ryazanovs removed to Moscow. He didn’t think much of which institute to choose and an accidental meeting with his schoolfellow gave him the idea to enter the Faculty of Direction at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. He passed the admission test and joined the workshop of Grigori Kozintsev. Great Sergei Eisenstein was among his pedagogues and noticed talents of the young student. He had a significant impact on Ryazanov.
In 1955 Ryazanov joined Mosfilm. He helped Sergei Gurov to make a revue film Spring Voices and then the Mosfilm president Ivan Pyryev literally forced him to direct a New Year’s musical comedy called Carnival Night. The film was released in 1956 and became a true Ryazanov’s triumph. The whole country knew the name of the young director. It was hard to believe that he refused four times but Pyryev insisted and finally convinced him to direct the movie. His second work entitled A Girl without an Address was also warmly welcomed.
Pyryev helped Ryazanov once more when he directed Hussar Ballad. The Mosfilm head obtained the permission and asked Yuri Yakovlev to take the leading part of Lieutenant Rzhevsky. Ryazanov himself strained every nerve to convince film heads that Igor llyinsky was the best candidate for Kutuzov and his movie didn’t distort the history of Russia but only romanticized it. The GITIS student Larisa Golubkina was perfect in the role of Shura Azarova.
Beware of the Car was out in 1966 and became a milestone in the career of both Director Eldar Ryazanov and Playwright Emil Braginsky. This wonderful work united lyrical comedy with tricks, parody with satire and melodrama with detective story. Excellent music written by Andrei Petrov and such great actors as Evstigneyev, Papanov, Mironov, Efremov, Aroseva, Volchek and others created a gallery of diverse characters and made an ageless movie. Together with Braginsky Ryazanov wrote successful novels and plays for theaters in every corner of Russia. Some of them were produced abroad. Eldar made new films out of satirical novels The Ziqzaq of Success and Old Men: Robbers.
In 1969 Ryazanovand Braginsky wrote a play called Enjoy Your Both. It was warmly appreciated by the audience of many Russian theaters. Eldar decided to make a film based upon the play. An intelligent movie The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! became the most beloved New Year’s comedy for Russian people. It brought him the State Prize of the USSR.
In 1978 another satirical comedy Garage was released. Ryazanov called his favorite actors. Their characters were doctors and masters, the brainpower of the nation. But their minds weren’t occupied by problems of technological progress. The epoch of total deficiency made them furiously search for new garages for their cars.
After Garage Eldar Ryazanov travelled back in time and directed a TV movie Say a Word for the Poor Hussar based on the screenplay by Grigory Gorin. «We wanted to reconstruct the atmosphere of this historical period, — Ryazanov recalls. — There should be a lot of details, costumes, carriages, horsemen, everyday objects. We had to gather it all in one place and then just forget about it and make the movie as if it was shot back then. We tried to convince ourselves that it was our familiar modern times. The motion was all we needed. It should look like a film made with a candid camera.»
The story of his next movie, A Railway Station for Two, occurs at the railway station of Zastupinsk, a small town. In a local restaurant Platon, an intelligent musician from Moscow played by Oleg Basilashvili meets Vera, a waitress (Ludmila Gurchenko). A Railway Station for Two is a lyrical chamber film. Its story is built on classical schemes. A furious quarrel at the beginning turns into love at the end.
A Cruel Romance based on The Dowerless Bride written by Alexander Ostrovsky is still very popular.
On his 60th birthday Eldar Ryazanov, as a true director, made another film called A Forgotten Tune for the Flute. It was a special work. There were three dimensions: reality, dreamland and another world. A bright comedy and psychological drama were twined together and the whole story ended up a tragedy.
Eldar is also known as writer and playwright. Among his published works there are such books as Sad Face of Comedy, Zigzag of Success (with E. Braginsky), These Not Serious, Not Serious Movies, Merry Sad Stories, Comedies for TV and Cinema (with E. Braginsky), Unsummarized, Nostalgia (a book of poems).
Ryazanov created more than 200 authorial TV projects. The most popular of them are cycles: Eight Girls — One Me, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Open Air Talks. His epic Parisian Secrets of Eldar Ryazanov was dedicated to French movie stars. On November 18, 1998 he was invited to the French Embassy in Moscow and awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor.
New time demands for new heroes. In Old Hags (2000) four homeless women (Gurchenko, Kryuchkova, Akhedzhakova and Kupchenko) struggle against Russian mafia and learn the art of blackmail and espionage.
Another Ryazanov’s comedy, Still Waters, was dedicated to memory of Emil Braginsky. It was his last and unfinished screenplay. There is a lot of hope and bright humor in this film. Wonderful musical pieces taken from the Mikael Tariverdiev archives revive the atmosphere of The Irony of Fate.
In 2002 Ryazanov made Bedroom Key, an erotic and ironic situation comedy. There was everything that the audience loved about Eldar Ryazanov’s movies: love mess, surprise, smart dialogues, affair, passion, duels and happy end. New generation of actors come aboard — Bezrukov, Fomenko, Makovetsky, Kryukova.
Ryazanov can’t imagine his own life without work. He has tons of ideas. At the beginning of 2004 his new cycle documentary Let’s Talk about Oddities of Love started. It was dedicated to the great masters of the past — Eisenstein, Herzen, Dostoevsky, Pasternak, and Gorky.