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Ermler, Friedrich

Born: 13 May 1898 (Rechitsa, Russia, now Rezekna, Latvia) Died: 12 July 1967 (Leningrad, Soviet Union, now Saint Petersburg, Russia)
Friedrich Ermler, one of the Soviet most undervalued directors of late silent and early sound film era, needs, by many critics nowdays a serious re-evaluation. Originally studied to be a pharmacist, his honest believe in the ideas of Bolshevik's led him to be a member of Red Army during the Russian Civil War, right after which he formally joined the Communist Party. His film career started in 1923, firstly taking screenwriting and acting classes at the Institute of Screen Arts in St. Petersburg and then continued as a director at Lenfilm Studios, where he spent practically his entire career (between 1939 and 1943, Ermler served as an artistic director of Lenfilm Studios). His feature film debut "Scarlet Fever/ Skarlatina" (1924) was a comedy.

One of the most outstanding and celebrated works are a remarkably accurate portrayal of everyday life in 1920s Leningrad "Katka's Reinette Apples/Katka-bumazhny ranyet" (1926, co-directed with Edouard Ioganson), and "House in the Snow Drifts/Dom vsogrobakh" (1927), which was based on the short story The Cave by Yevgeny Zamatkin. In 1932, in conjuction with director Sergey Yutkevich, he completed his first sound film "Counterplan/Vstrechnyy/". Among others Elmer's best-known films count "Great Citizen/Veliky Grazhdanin" (1938), the two-part biography of Stalin's slain enemy Sergei Kirov and "Turning Point/Veliky Perelom" (1946), which won Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival in 1946.

Friedrich Ermler is considered a master of psychological realism, treatment of his characters is remarkably evenhanded, their weaknesses and even deceptions understood against a backdrop of fear and deprivation. The interest in elemental things: people's faces in two-shots, the way men put on their pants and boots, houses and bridges at night are the signature marks in all Ermler's work. Over his career, Ermler traveled to Europe (in 1929) and Hollywood (1935) as an ambassador for Soviet films.

Filmography (as director unless otherwise noted):

  • Facing the Judgement of History/ Pered sudom istorij, 1965
  • From New York to Issanaia Poliana, 1963
  • Dinner Time, 1962
  • The First Day/ Den pervyj, 1958
  • Unfinished Story/ Neokonchennaya povest, 1955
  • The Great Force/ Velikaya sila, 1949; (also screenwriter)
  • The Turning Point/ Velikij perelom, 1945
  • No Greater Love/ Ona zashchishchayet rodinu, 1943; (also producer)
  • Lad from Our Town/ Paren iz nashego goroda, 1942; (production artistic chief only)
  • Anton Ivanovich Is Angry/ Anton Ivanovich serditsya, 1941; (artistic producer only)
  • Autumn/ Osen, 1940
  • Great Citizen/ Velikij grazhdanin, 1937; (also screenwriter)
  • Peasants/ Krestyane, 1935; (also screenwriter)
  • Counterplan/ Vstrechnyj, 1932; (also screenwriter)
  • Fragment of an Empire/ Oblomok imperii, 1929; (also screenwriter)
  • The Parisian Cobbler/ Parizhskij sapozhnik, 1928
  • The House in the Snow-Drifts/ Dom v sugrobakh, 1927
  • Katka's Reinette Apples/ Katka-bumazhny ranyet, 1926
  • Children of the Storm/ Deti buri , 1926; (also screenwriter)
  • Scarlet Fever/ Skarlatina, 1924