The film “Rainbow” of 1943 literally for couple of years has acquired myths and legends – so world film community and ordinary spectators have like a screen version of the novel of Vanda Vasilevsky filmed by well-known director Mark Donsky. And till now inhabitants disagree: whether the film was made in Ashgabat? Really indeed it was made in summer? Whether the film got the Oscar? Whether there was among nominees an eminent Turkmen director?
… For Turkmen director Meret Atahan “Rainbow” lighted up suddenly and dazzling. Only coming in 1941 to the Academic drama theatre after graduation from the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts – GITIS, but already having shown his talent the young director was in love with a temple of the Melpomene and did not think of cameras and a big screen.
His first production was “The doctor/physician in spite of himself” of Molière – deserved an applause of spectators and a laudatory response of venerable critic Kuvanch Kerimi. «…the performance marked itself a new stage in development of creativity of great French playwright», – so the critic in his review about the work of Atahanov responded.
And he would like to continue to create on the stage. And even the beginning of terrible war only inflamed the thirst of activity of the director. “The Front” scenario based on Alexander Korneichuk’s play was already ready, the troupe was collected, performance … was approved.
But the production could not surprise spectators. In the autumn of 1941 the Kiev film studio was evacuated to Ashgabat. Many eminent Ukrainian directors, operators, artists, actors – Dovzhenko, Savchenko, Don, Uzhvy, Hvylya, Gnat Yuran, etc. – arrived in sunny Turkmenistan.
– Once I was invited to the film studio, – remembered it then Meret Atahanov. – Also they told that Mark Donsky wants to get acquainted with me. We met. Mark Semenovich – spontaneity. He began without prefaces: «I saw yours « Doctor». You work well, with an invention, cheerfully, bravely…». There were other good and flatter words-compliments. To what, I think, so he is soft? And he suddenly: it is a pity to tear off supposedly from theatre, but it is necessary: you will be with me as assistant. He gave me the scenario: read, about the rest – we will talk tomorrow. It was “Rainbow”.
Meret Atahanov was stunned with such pressure. Honour is improbable, and the scenario took at once for soul. But how “the Front”, actors?
– But my consent as it appeared, for Don was not required: the question was already solved in “instances”. Understand: time was military. And I left theatre.
And a week later the perspective Turkmen director together with operator Boris Monastyrsky left to Semipalatinsk to shoot scenes with actress Natalia Uzhvy playing the main heroine of “Rainbow” – guerrilla Olen. So far we went behind snow that “cold”, to bones scolding episodes touch till now the spectator.
Everything that was filmed by then the director-probationer in Semipalatinsk, deserved a praise of Don and completely entered into the film. To “Dovodit” he had at the Ashgabat stadium at the end of hot Turkmen summer. Salt – instead of snow, spectator seats instead of a hilly landscape.
In 1944 participants of shootings were noted by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme body of the USSR. In 1946 to Mark Donsky, Natalia Uzhvy and the performer of a role of Pusi actress Nina Alisova were awarded the Stalin award of the first degree.
But here Oscar, despite taken roots myth, the picture had not received. The gold figurine in a nomination «the Best film in a foreign language» was founded only in 1947. But the picture was noted by the Main prize of the association of film critics of the USA and the Higher award of the newspaper «Daily News» «For the best foreign film in the American distribution of 1944», and also a prize of the National board of film observers of the USA.
The following film work of Atahanov – a musical comedy «Magic crystal», a fascinating film concert with “a detective” plot and brilliant actors of Alty Karliev, Bazar Amanov, Maya Kulieva, Sary Karryev, Yolaman Hummaev. He created it in the co-authorship with the Kiev director Abram Naroditsky. A cheerful narration about adventures of the favourite of the Kazakh people Aldar Kose was shown on screens in the eve of the Great Victory.
And then… Mered Atahanov returned to his theatre: he headed the regional drama theatre named after Kemine in Mary. From his most considerable works of those years it is possible to name performances «Amusing case» of K.Goldoni, «Another’s child» V.Shkvarkin, «The Daughter of the Ganges» (a performance based on the novel of R.Tagore “Wreck”), «Lyubov Yarovaya» K.Trenyov, «Scapin the Schemer» of Moliere favourite from student’s years. In a short space of time the Kemine theatre became the best among regional, and Mered Atahanov even for infrequent spectators became Mered Serdarovich, dear master of stage. At theatrical festivals his productions successfully maintained creative competitions even with the best performances of the glorified Academic drama theatre.
But the adoration of public was only one party of a medal. And on another – constant surveillance of observers of customs from the Ministry of Culture, party ideologists from art, “kind” councils, attempts reshape not sample plans of the director to brush with their ideological comb.
It worked with many, but only not with tough Atahanov. He furiously defended the point of view, the general plan and each word in the scenario. For it he was adored also by public – for honesty both in work, and in life. For inability and unwillingness to cave in for the sake of the dim and streamline benefits.
It was necessary to go to cinema again. And – till the end of the days – Atahanov gave all the rest of life to his second passion.
Two his films of the 1960-ties: «A case in Dash-Kale» – acute problem film about a hard share of the Turkmen woman, and «Road of a burning van» – about new life in forgotten deaf corners of Turkmenistan, entered into the Gold Fund of national motion picture arts. Together with “Competition” and Mansurov’s “Slave”, and a bit later with “Daughter-in-law” of Narliev, Atahanov’s pictures marked a new stage in development of the Turkmen big screen, inspired “Turkmenfilm” on intensive searches of new film language, working out of national characters, courageous works about important social and moral problems of that time.
With his latest work «Dzhigit is always Dzhigit» Atahanov returned his favourite genre – comedies to cinema. This work is considered not the best in “collection” of the film artist, it is instructive and rectilinear. But in it that main thing that was peculiar to this “obstinate” person – cheerful nature, the kind relation to people, is ironic-clever sight at the world one can feel in it.