Rimma Markova’s jubilee
The stage and screen life of Rimma Markova with her more than one hundred roles gives a perfect reflection of a great epoch in the life of our country. Bright, bold, filled with life power of the Russian land and her human individuality these roles are unforgettable. Practically everyone in this country remembers her lady doc with a Russian cigarette from Pokrovskiye Vorota (The Pokrovsky Gate) and her phrase, “Cut now and hell with it, we shall not wait for peritonitis!” Her duo with Nonna Mordyukova in the social advertising “Russian Project” by Denis Yevstigneyev will be also hard to forget. So impressive were the two Russian female workers fixing railway sleepers, oppressed by their life conditions but strong in spirit. Cameos in blockbusters Nochnoy Dozor (Night Watch) and Dnevnoy Dozor (Day Watch) made her popular with the youth. With her enthusiasm and energy, Markova can overshadow any beginning actress. Even now, after the jubilee, it is difficult to find her at home. She is at the shooting of a new movie, she is offered a new role, she is reading a screenplay, and there are plenty of social activities too. It was not an easy task to find a gap in her schedule and congratulate her on the jubilee on behalf of VIP-Premier and the Theater Parlor and to ask a few questions. Finally, she agreed to meet us at home in her small single-room flat. She frankly conceded that she is tired of journalists. According to a Moscow habit the table was laid in the kitchen with home-cooked delicacies. Our conversation drifted from one thing to another.
Rimma Markova bears the title of People’s Artist of Russia. She was born in the village of Churino, the Samara region, on March 3, 1925. She studied at the drama studio under the Vologda Drama Theater and then at the drama studio attached to the Moscow Theater of Lenin’s Komsomol (LenKom). Joined first the LenKom company and in 1971 – the company of the Moscow Theater-Studio of Screen Actors. She appeared in more than a hundred films including Zhyviye i Myortviye (The Living and the Dead), Krylya (The Wings), Babye Tsarstvo (Women’s Kingdom), Zhuravushka, Yegor Bulychev and Others, Vechniy Zov (The Eternal Calling), Pokrovskiye Vorota (The Pokrovsky Gate), Obryv (Rupture), Gardemariny, Vperyod! (Naval Cadets, Cahrge!) Dnevnoy Dozor (Day Watch), Nochnoy Dozor (Night Watch), and Veronika Ne Pridyot (Veronika Will Not Come). She is a member of the Board of the Central Council of the Fair Russia party, a member of the central council of the public organization Russian Pensioners for Justice, a member of the Film Makers’ Union, and a member of the Council of the Russian Screen Actors Guild. She is a winner of a special diploma “For High Artistic Quality” of the 16th San Sebastian International Film Festival. The Best Actress prize of the 4th All-Union Film Festival in Minsk for a role in the film Babye Tsarstvo (Women’s Kingdom). The Living Legend of the Russian Cinema prize winner. Awarded with the order Badge of Honor. Her family consists of a daughter and a grandson.
Popularity came to Markova with an international prize, a special diploma of the 16th San Sebastian International Film Festival “For High Artistic Quality” for a role in the film Babye Tsarstvo (Women’s Kingdom). A prize of the 4th All-Union Film Festival in Minsk followed almost instantly.
The images of Russian women in such films as Babye Tsarstvo (Women’s Kingdom), Zhuravushka, Krylya (The Wings), and Zhyviye i Myortviye (The Living and the Dead), among many others, revealed her treasures of the heart and peculiarities of world perception. She generously shares her gift. Her wartime and post-war years echoed in the soul of the then young woman with pain, joy, hatred and female weakness. Al those feelings and emotions she later expressed in the images of her heroines. Human creativity is inborn but the purpose of an artist is to unite people, to help them reach such mutual understanding and intimacy when human interaction leads to love and joy. It is painfully hard to put one’s heart on display. But at the same time it is invitation to friendship and love. It is the greatest joy of an artist, an actor, to be understood. This means an outstretched hand was met by another hand and accepted. Every role played by Markova is only a sign of what happened in her heart.
– Rimma Vasilyevna, what was the brightest
and most unforgettable event in your life?
–The brightest event was the end of the war. In the night of May 8, my mother awakened me and my brother. My father stood weeping and mother said, “The war, the war is over!” We quickly put on our clothes and went off. We were in the city of Vologda where father worked as an actor in the local theater. The city was in triumph. People filled the streets singing, kissing, shagging each other… All night through the city hummed with excitement. So, the happiness of Victory was the brightest impression in my life.
– You and your brother Leonid Markov were on the stage since early childhood. Is your life the continuation of an actor’s dynasty?
– Indeed, directly from the cradle we stepped onto the stage of a professional theater. Almost every performance needs a boy or a girl. I was delighted to play but my brother definitely was not. He did not want to become an actor. Lyonya had a gift for painting, carving. He was more romantic than me. “Look, he said, this water puddle looks like a knight!” I looked and saw nothing – just a puddle like any other. He felt nature and interpreted images through drawing. All his life he has been drawing oil paintings. His gift helped us survive during the war. In my opinion everybody who lived through the war all are veterans, war veterans. Soldiers were on the frontline, but all the rest, women, elders and children, were also participants in the war. We were killed by hunger and hard work. When echelons with the wounded started to arrive schools were converted into temporary hospitals. They needed firewood for heating. In summer, armed with pike poles we retrieved from the river bottom heavy logs dubbed as “drowned swimmers,” a crippling work for women as well as for children and old people.
– What is the secret of actor’s popularity?
– I cannot answer this question. Such popularity and just of a sudden… I was in many films before, but was never that popular. When I grew older people started to see me on the screen more frequently. Just a while ago there was another call from television. They are inviting me but frankly speaking I don’t like television. It is a criminal organization. They don’t care for health and the state of mind. They care only for money. Television is not aimed at educating youth and children. What wonderful films we had before! Films by (Mikhail) Romm, children’s cartoons, they taught love and respect to people, were filled with soul warmth and care for each other...
– Which role was especially difficult for you?
– Any role has its own difficulties. You want to get away from the self in the “proposed circumstances,” as Konstantin Stanislavsky said. Working on an image I must extract and realize what is good and what is bad in it. I must imagine the entire life of that person and only in this case I will not go empty-handed. Suppose I must play a murder. But I don’t know how to justify it, how to take the knife and what to do with my face. Finally, wrapped by a light veil I do it. But, how would I justify it? I must set my heart on the role and get into it. These are the difficulties of actor’s work. I understand actors who drink. What if an actor playing Arbenin shifts his sweat-soaking shirt thrice during the night, carries emotional tension long after the end of the performance, and only at home after a glass of brandy is able to relax? He is well on the way to alcohol addiction. It is a serious problem.
– Your brother Leonid Markov, People’s Artist of the USSR, was an actor bright and unforgettable. Did you help each other as actors or did you fight and argue? And did you remain the undisputed leader, as in your childhood?
– Of course, we argued. He had one approach to a role, mine was quite different despite we had the same parents and were brought up the same way. Like an artist he could paint an image, whereas I had to feel it deeply and get into the role. The shooting of my latest film lasted 17 days. Films are cranked out by the truckload. But miracles never happen! To learn the text of the role is not enough. I must get into the role. I must understand what I want to express. No chance! Actors strain hard. Experienced professionals somehow express their attitude to the roles, but young actors in this situation play merely by the vocal chords not by the heart. I don’t blame them, many are gifted. But circumstances are such that we have.
– If you could live all over again what would you do different?
– I would not have made many of the mistakes I made. I. N. Bersenyev, my teacher, used to say, “Occurrence is the voice of God!” I did not always realize this and rejected roles. Now I would not have done this. And many others would not too – Mordyukova, Yevstigneyev, Tikhonov, Maya Bulgakova. The latter even collapsed despite her great talent… Something else would have been, should have been. I reckon time will pass and they will start thinking about theater again. We were raised on good music, poetry, literature. Our attitude to everything is different. What do I think about modern music? I simply don’t understand these half-naked girls with handsome faces and no talent at all. They are sponsored by money bags. Television needs money. I love classical music: Tchaikovsky, Grieg (what a music!), Rakhmaninov (what a power!)… You come to listen to classical music and it makes you think, imagine. I came from province. First I listened to music and felt bored, then I listened and tried to understand it and then I could not live without it. Life is empty without music, it stirs the soul. Recently my daughter brought me a CD of singer A. Bocelli. I listened to it and could not shake off impression for a long time. When we were shooting a film in Ukraine, I suddenly had a free day. I bought a ticket to a concert of Valery Leontyev. He worked on the stage like there’s no tomorrow! He always works to death under the cheers of the audience...
– What would you like to wish to the Theater Parlor?
– Actors need this place. There we mix, socialize with spectators, and speak about the shameful exploitation of actors. My dream is that this country is run by a female president. We must fight for people. We must teach them to love the motherland, flowers, nature. The development of culture is a priority. Actors share with people treasures of their hearts and their perception of the world. It is a dialogue with people. Actors create the world of their own and invite others to it. In this their world everything is naked: the soul with all its sufferings, setbacks and joys. With full commitment they serve the mankind.
– Are you a happy woman?
– Happiness only lasts an instant! I was happy when my daughter was born. But actors are possessed people and this affects their children. I did not give enough attention to my daughter. Now I would not have done this. Many say give kids good food and good clothes are they will be all right. This is wrong. Children need much of your time and feelings. I was happy when my grandson was born. I want to see him an adolescent and I fear for him in this world. Why did the nobles of the past look for a multi-sided education for their children? They wanted their children to find themselves and develop further their gifts. All children are talented but sometimes parents are too ambitious and make kids suffer forcing them to engage seriously in activities where the parents themselves failed when they were young. Children are lost and crippled. Listen more to your children than to yourself!
– Rimma Vasilyevna, it is difficult to find you at home. You are in a new film. Tell us something about it.
–It’s a comedy entitled The New Year Detective Story, a good comedy without murder, four-letter words and vulgarity. The shooting is just over. Now the film will be edited and then sound mixed – sound effects, actors’ voices and music. In about two months we will see the result. The director of Focus-Film Company said the material was good. The cast was superb: A.Adebashyan, L.Artemyeva, D.Mikhailova, S. Makovetsky and other young actors. I don’t know what will be in the end. Sometimes we are satisfied but the film viewers less so. Pray God, everything will go great. I work, I’m in the films, I earn money and help my loved ones, the daughter and the grandson. I must feed my children. Pension is growing by only three-five percent while charges go sky-high. They will soon start to throw out people who cannot pay for their flats. Corruption is all around us. People abide in all circumstances, whatever experiments they stage on us…
Markova has an exceptional gift of insight deep into the human soul. All her free time is dedicated to serving people. She is a member of the Board of the Central Council of the Fair Russia party, a member of the central council of the public organization Russian Pensioners for Justice, a member of the Film Makers’ Union, and a member of the Council of the Russian Screen Actors Guild. She has an ear for complaints and claims. She helps, thinks about people, respects people, gets anxious and empathizes with them giving all her energy, care and health. She is almost never sick, just small problems with blood pressure as of late. Her life is a struggle, including a struggle with age. The tempo of her work and social life is high. But Markova is always trim, energetic and beautiful.
– I never lied or changed colors. And I use a strong language when it suits, said the actress.
To kneel before this woman is only natural. Power and tenderness, devotion and softness, care and kindness, the vast scope of human and actor’s feelings are there in the arsenal of Rimma Markova.
By Veronika TETERINA