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News

“Honorary Cossack Woman”

02.04.2018

April 4, 2018, is the 90th anniversary of Elina Bystritskaya, an actress of theatre and cinema, the USSR People’s Actress, who performed the role of Aksinya Astakhova in the feature film “The Quiet Don” after the title novel by M.A.Sholokhov.

Elina Bystritskaya is a standard for the actress and a standard for the woman. She is a person of extraordinary willpower, she arouses admiration and boundless respect of different generations. She became and remains a legend of the national cinema.

Bystritskaya gained an all-Union popularity having acted the role of Aksinya in the film “The Quiet Don” after the famous novel of Mikhail Sholokhov. This image became her best cinema role. More than half a century has passed, many actresses tried to perform Aksinya, but none of them could even approach the level and depth of Elina Avraamovna.

In her book “Meetings under the Star of Hope” Bystritskaya wrote: “After I acted Aksinya in the “Quiet Don”, a Cossack woman in the entire splendour of physical and spiritual beauty, the Don Cossacks told me: “You are our, a resident of the Don stanitsa.

Elina Avraamovna wanted very much to perform in the film by S.Gerasimov. Having learned about his going to film “The Quiet Don” Bystritskaya came to him to join the casting for the role of Aksinya: “I want to have this role. I can act it.” There were many applicants for this role. The casting lasted six months. Sergey Gerasimov said later that Bystritskaya was selected for the role of Aksinya by M.A.Sholokhov. “We rejected dozens of candidates having detected no character traits of Grigory’s lover, no peculiar beauty of hers. At last, on Sholokhov’s advice we stopped at Elina Bystritskaya.”

On the set of “The Quiet Don” she had a course of mastery from Gerasimov. He demanded absolute internal and external transformation, maximum truth even in details. The actress had to put on nearly 12 kg weight. Gerasimov said: “Where did you see a cachectic Cossack woman? I need Aksinya be a proud and beautiful woman with shapes!”

When the film was released, thirty oldest Cossacks proposed the actress to be called Aksinya Donskaya! Bystritskaya answered the proposition, that she would

retain the surname of her parents, but at the same time she would remain loyal to the Cossacks.

Elina Avraamovna was awarded the title of Honorary Cossack Woman for the role of Aksinya. Vladimir Andreyev, the well-known actor and director, the former artistic director of the Yermolova Theatre, said: “All who saw Elina Bystritskaya in the image of Aksinya in the cinema novel “The Quiet Don” by Gerasimov even today, on the stage of her native home – the Maly Theatre, will admiringly exclaim: years do not have power over this woman!

 

Nadezhda Rasskazova
Yelena Ilyichova