When the Trees Were Tall

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When the Trees Were Tall
When the Trees Were Tall.jpg
1962 When the Trees Were Tall poster by Vilen Karakashev and Liliya Levshunova
Directed by Lev Kulidzhanov
Produced by Lev Kulidzhanov
Written by Nikolai Figurovsky
Starring Yuri Nikulin, Inna Gulaya, Vasily Shukshin
Music by Leonid Afanasyev
Cinematography Valeri Ginzburg
Edited by Natalya Loginova
Release dates
  • 1961 (1961)
Running time 95 minutes
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian

When the Trees Were Tall (Russian: Когда деревья были большими, translit. Kogda derevya byli bolshimi) is a 1961 Soviet drama film directed by Lev Kulidzhanov. The film was screened at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

This film happened to be one of the first for Yuri Nikulin. This was also one of the most significant role for Inna Gulaya's career, female lead role performer in this film. It was also Lydmila Chursina's debut film.


After losing his wife during the World War II Veteran Kuzma Kuzmich Iordanov do not work, drinks alcohol, makes up his living by doing some odd jobs. From time to time they call him up at one of the Militia (Police) department to shame him and to threaten him with some jail time because of his "parasitiс" type of living his life, but all that staff does not seem to bother him much.

One time Kuzma agrees to help one old lady to deliver a washing machine to her house (there used to be different fees for doing do - if the building had an elevator - there would be one price for it, if there was not one - then it would cost you more money to deliver it as it requires more time and effort) he accidentally drops it and while running downstairs trying to catch it he stumbles and gets hurt bad enough so they have to take him to the hospital. The same old lady that he was delivering this washing machine for comes and visits him. He gets scared thinking she came to talk to him about the washing machine that he broke but as he realizes later she actually came to see if he was doing fine. As they talk she tells him her life story, as well as the story about one poor orphan child Natasha from her village. Kuzma decides to go out there and try to pretend to be Natasha's father.

Natasha indeed thinks this is her father and so truly believes so, that Kuzma decides to become a different person and stay on the right track. He does want to live a different life now as that poor girl really thinks he is her father - that changes Kuzma and not for his own sake but to make somebody's life better he becomes a new man opposed to the heavy drinker he was before.


Critical reception[edit]

Howard Thompson of The New York Times called the film "an odd, fumbling drama" and thought the hero was "the most negative, ground-down and dull protagonist the Soviet Union has sent us in a long time." He added, "Furthermore, the simple story line slides its course crabwise, wedged in between oblique, pretentious photography — some of it fetchingly pastoral — and splintered, meaningless vignettes."[2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: When the Trees Were Tall". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Howard (February 22, 1965). "A Soviet Drama:'The Trees Were Tall' Opens at the Cameo". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 

External links[edit]