Aleksei Yuryevich German
Aleksei Yuryevich German (Russian: Алексей Юрьевич Герман; 20 July 1938 – 21 February 2013) was a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, most active as a director and screenwriter. His last name is pronounced with a hard "g" and in English is frequently spelled Guerman or Gherman to avoid confusion.
German was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg, Russia) in 1938; his father was the writer Yuri German. He studied under Grigori Kozintsev until 1960, and then moved on to working in theatre before joining the Lenfilm studio as an assistant director. He made his directing debut with Sedmoy Sputnik, co-directed with Grigory Aronov in 1967. Over the course of his career, many of his projects met with production difficulties or official opposition; in 50 years, he managed to complete just six feature films, his final film being the science fiction film Hard to Be a God, which debuted at the Rome Film Festival in 2013.
Trial on the Road (1971) is the film that made Alexei German famous. It was banned for fifteen years and was "on the shelves" of the Ministry of Culture of the Soviet Union until its release (1986) during the Gorbachev era. However, the names of all of the crew members who emigrated to the United States (DP Yasha Sklansky (or Yakov Sklyansky), Assistant Director Leo Zisman (or Leonid Zisman) and Production Manager and Assistant Director Leon Weinstein (or Leonid A. Weinstein)) were erased from the credits. The same is true with another "Lenfilm" crew member on German's film (Twenty Days Without War, 1976), Natalia Toreeva, who worked as the Costume Designer in this film, and who also emigrated to the United States in 1977.
In 1987, at the Rotterdam International Film Festival (Netherlands), Alexei German, as a director, received a KNF Award for his three films, Trial on the Road, Twenty Days Without War, and My Friend Ivan Lapshin.
German is survived by his wife, the screenwriter Svetlana Karmalita, and his son Aleksei Alekseivich German, who is also a film director.
Most of German's films are set during the Joseph Stalin era and the Second World War, and they depict the time period in a critical light. His films, shot mostly in black and white or very muted color, have a distinctive "murky" look and are often described as looking "aged." He was known for his obstinacy as a director, for featuring protagonists who could be categorized neither as heroes nor antiheroes, and for casting actors against type.
- 1967 – Sedmoy sputnik (The Seventh Companion)
- 1971 – Proverka na dorogakh (Trial on the Road)
- 1976 – Dvadtsat dney bez voyny (Twenty Days Without War)
- 1984 – Moy drug Ivan Lapshin (My Friend Ivan Lapshin)
- 1998 – Khrustalyov, mashinu! (Khrustalyov, My Car!)
- 2013 – Trudno byt' bogom (Hard to Be a God) (original title History of the Arkanar Massacre)
- Aleksei Yuryevich German at the Internet Movie Database
- War and Remembrance: The Films of Aleksei Guerman
- The Strange Case of Russian Maverick Aleksei German, by Anton Dolin
- "Time Unfrozen: The Films of Aleksei German," New Left Review 7, Jan.-Feb. 2001. by Tony Wood
- Exorcism: Aleksei German Among the Long Shadows, by J. Hoberman
- Shooting Down Pictures article