In 1963, weighty subjects predominated in Soviet cinema: the coming of age of a young sailor, tragic love, a murder investigation in a remote Siberian town, a polemical courtroom clash between an "old Communist" and a young scientist, and romance against the backdrop of a Kamchatka fisheries research station. Some of these films have fallen into obscurity, while others are still recalled from time to time by those who grew up in the early sixties, when the release of any film, regardless of its quality, was considered a major event.
However, one film that came out in 1963 became an instant sensation and has earned a place of honor in the history of Soviet cinema: Georgy Daneliya's Walking the Streets of Moscow (Я шагаю по Москве). What was so striking about this film was that it introduced an entirely new type of protagonist: young, cheerful, slightly irreverent, and, most important, made of real flesh and blood, in contrast with the cardboard cutouts Soviet moviegoers were accustomed to. Their footloose wanderings through Moscow, their ill-fated and comical adventures, and, of course, the charming 18-year-old Nikita Mikhalkov singing "I am walking, I am striding through Moscow…" were like a breath of fresh air for audiences.
The film's screenwriter, Gennady Shpalikov, a talented poet, ended his own life, unable to endure the pressures the Soviet regime placed on its prominent people of culture, however two other forces behind the film managed to prosper. Georgy Danilya went on to direct many more cinematic masterpieces, and Nikita Mikhalkov became an internationally renowned actor and director and a pal of President Putin, whose agenda he has subtly and not-so-subtly promoted with his art.
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