In Turkmenistan, the name of Yevgeny Ivanovich Mikhelson, the Honored Artist, artist, cartoonist is well known. More than one generation of young citizens of the country grew up on the animated films created by Yevgeny Michelson. Many of the boys and girls who have become adults today, fathers and mothers, still remember the adventures of the homeless puppy Kongurdzhi, who was looking for friends for himself, the first ever animated film in the history of the Turkmen cinema.
Yevgeny Mikhelson was born in the city of Petropavlovsk, in northern Kazakhstan. In early childhood he became an orphan. At the age of twelve, Zhenya, who had a great ability to draw, was sent to study in Leningrad, to a secondary school for gifted children at the I.Ye.Pepin Institute of the USSR Academy of Arts.
For five years, the young artist was engaged in school. He studied well, his works were exhibited at international exhibitions of children’s drawings in England, India and other countries. In a word, everything was going fine, but … When the holidays started, melancholy came to the boy’s heart. There were neither relatives nor acquaintances in the city, besides, they were harassed by constant dampness, cold and rains. And he so dreamed of the sun. Without completing the last course, he boarded a train and set off towards warmth and light, in Ashgabat.
In the sunny capital, a young artist began to try himself in different genres. Once a creative quest brought him to the Ashgabat television studio. He worked as an artist-designer, production designer, director. During the filming of the film “Serdar” Yevgeny met with the young actor Baba Annanov. Thus began a friendship that lasted a lifetime.
Baba introduced Zhenya Michelson to the composer Nury Halmamedov, who also became his close friend. Nury, in turn, brought Kurbannazar Ezizov. So gradually formed a circle of friends. Frequently, music was played in the small room of Mikhelson until morning – it was the old piano that played its new works by Nury Halmamedov, Kurbannazar Ezizov, Yury Ryabinin read his poems, new picturesque canvases by Durdy Bayramov and Stanislav Babikov were shown.
It was a celebration of communication – young, talented, in love, passionate, they argued about life, about art, together they discussed creative ideas.
Friends warmly supported the idea of Michelson to try his hand at animations, and drew his attention to the plot of Kerim Kurbannepesov’s Homeless Kongurdzha poem. He read, and enthusiastically took up a new business.
The film script was written by TV journalist Laura Stepanskaya. The dolls, according to Yevgeny Mikhelson’s drawings, were made at the Soyuzmultfilm studio. Soon the idea of creating a national animation became a reality. In 1972, the first Turkmen cartoon was released.
– Attitude to the “Homeless Kongurdzhi” for everyone who created it, was more than reverent, – said Yevgeny Ivanovich.- The birth of the firstborn is always a great event! The whole team worked with great love, selflessly. I remember that time with pleasure. The music for the cartoon was written by Nury Halmamedov. Brilliant music.
Of course, one can wonder why the composer, whose fame has already stepped over the country’s borders, behind whom were symphonies and music for the films “Competition” and “Decisive Step”, which glorified Turkmen cinema, made him recognizable largely due to the unforgettable “Khalmamed” melodies, put aside serious music and set to work in an experimental 10-minute film.
Is it only out of a sense of friendship with a cartoonist?
To answer this question, you need to know the life history of the composer. Nury Halmamedov remained a child until the last days. Childhood did not let him go. Perhaps participation in the creation of the cartoon and has become a kind of tribute to his childhood. In addition, he had common features with the main character: he grew up as an orphan, just like Kongurdzhi. I also looked for true friends and knew the price of friendship and devotion.
It must be said, that the same circumstances led Yevgeny Mikhelson to the cinema for children.
It seems only at first glance that the work in the field of doll animation does not require much effort: sit yourself, play with the dolls, move them in different directions. Animation is, above all, tremendous patience. In order to liven up the frozen figures, it is sometimes necessary to fiddle with them for many hours in a row, for the sake of only one frame. At the same time, the cartoonist should also be a good actor in order to be able to get used to the role of each character, give it unique features, character, make them recognizable, in a word, humanize it.
And again the question arises: why do adults need a professional who clearly understands that the red tracks of prestigious international film festivals are not waiting for him, spend so much energy, nerves and time to let a donkey, for example, take off, and the puppy and bunny play leapfrog?
– Exactly for this very moment! – Yevgeny Ivanovich exclaims. “When I first saw Kongurdzhi play and talk on the screen, I was amazed and shocked. He lived his own puppy life! And I fell in love with him. It was worth the hard work.
Since then he has not parted with the animation. It has become a matter of life.
“I remember how, at one time, at the festival of cartoon films in Armenia,” said Yevgeny Ivanovich, “after seeing our picture Little boy and Churek, in which the main idea was to cultivate respect for work and respect for bread, local people approached me and one old men said: “It is wonderful that you have so much sacred love for bread in Turkmenistan. It’s necessary to bring up our children on such films! ”And for the sake of this praise, it was also worth working.
They say that for children you need to work as seriously as for adults, only better.
Michelson understood how important the game is for children. Cartoons are not instructive videos, cartoon characters speak with children in the language that is accessible to children’s understanding. These are good, wise, fun lessons that help kids develop character and determine moral priorities.
In just over thirty years of work, Evgeny Mikhelson has created more than three dozen animated films. They still go on the screens of our country. And not only ours. Turkmen cartoons are available in film distribution in Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Scenarios were written by wonderful masters of the word – Kayum Tangrykuliev, Annaberdy Aghabaev and other Turkmen poets and prose writers.
Music for eight animated films was written by Nury Halmamedov. And each time it was an exact hit on the topic, and the topic was always the same – childhood. The last animated film to which he composed the music was called “Why does the camel eat the thorn?”
About his friend – Halmamedov – Yevgeny Ivanovich can talk endlessly.
– Nury understood cinema music like no other. Recall, at least, the soundtrack, as they would say now, to the film “The Decisive Step” or to the TV movie “Ketch Pelek”. When they showed this tape on television, even before launching on the air, everyone was crying. So fascinating, heaven was the music. Nury had a talent from God. He was not tormented by the torments of creativity. It seemed that the melodies themselves flew to him from somewhere above.
When Mikhelson, together with Halmamedov, came to Moscow to dub “Homeless Kongurdzhi”, they expected that they would be given a small orchestra for a small cartoon. However, having learned that they had been allocated a large symphony orchestra, they clutched their heads – there are almost a hundred musicians there. And the period for dubbing is only three days. If during this period, clearly marked in the schedule, the music is not written, then not only the organizers of the shooting of the cartoon, but also the Turkmenfilm film studio will be at the center of a scandalous situation.
But Nury reassured by saying “Everything will be fine!”, He locked himself in a hotel room, and by the morning of the next day a thick stack of ready-made score lay on the table. And the music was painted separately for each instrument. That is, he unselfishly did the work that is assigned to a group of special people from the orchestra.
This is hard to believe, especially since there was no piano in the hotel room. At the artistic council that hosted the cartoon, everyone was unanimous: great music!
“Nury Halmamedov had the magic of attracting people to himself,” recalls Yevgeny Mikhelson. – He was madly in love with women, he was respected by men. He was a very deep person, with his own, original judgment about everything. He was not very talkative, he was more silent, but even in his silence there was a depth that was transmitted to you.
For many years, engaging in animation, Yevgeny Ivanovich did not forget about his artistic vocation. He illustrated children’s books, showed himself as a theater artist, having decorated not only children’s performances of the Russian Pushkin Drama Theater (“The Adventures of Hudaiberdy”, “Bovendzhik”, “Mowgli”) as a production designer, but also performances for adults.
Yevgeny Ivanovich did not forget about his main vocation – painting. His watercolor still lifes and landscapes were exhibited at various art exhibitions in Ashgabat. It was a real festival of colors. Next to the blue-black bunch of grapes, covered with a whitish fruit patina, bulk green apples crumbled. Juicy yellow-orange peaches in young velvet skin beckoned to themselves. Modest irises in a vase adorned gently. In high glasses rubies blazed wine. Antique silverware glittered on the table.
One wanted to touch it all, smell it, taste it. Fruits, wine, and flowers were depicted with such skill that they themselves asked to hand. Still lifes followed the Turkmen landscapes and it seemed that the smells of the earth after the rain and flowering gardens intertwined in the fabric of the rich aromas of oriental sweets.
Paying homage to his friends, those who brought fame to Turkmen art, the artist created a gallery of national cinema figures. The courageous and beautiful faces of the young Baba Annanov, the piercing Artyk Dzhallyev, the wise Shukur Kuliyev, the charming Antonina Rustamova, the stern Khojon Ovezgelenov, look from the cardboard sheets. Here smiled with his unique, infectious smile Akmurad Byashimov, thoughtfully looked at us through the eyes of sage Nury Halmamedov. They were all so alive that they wanted to come up and shake their hands.
“Turkmenistan has become my homeland,” Yevgeny Ivanovich confessed. – Here I found myself, my place under the sun. I am proud that fate brought me together with amazing, wonderful, outstanding people. These people, friends of my distant and such beautiful youth, had a great influence on me both in my profession and in life. Their kindness, originality, honesty, decency, inner strength have formed in me an idea of what real Turkmen should be. Not everyone can live a life doing what they love and have a number of loyal, loyal, infinitely talented friends. I was lucky in this sense. And this, perhaps, is happiness…
Having said this, Evgeny Ivanovich thought for a moment, and immediately added with confidence:
– Although, why “perhaps”? This is true happiness!