The Lost Letter (1972 film)

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Propala Hramota
The Lost Letter
Mykolajchuk.jpg
Cossack Vasyl (played by Ivan Mykolaichuk)
Directed by Borys Ivchenko
Produced by Dovzhenko Film Studios
Written by Ivan Drach
Starring Vasyl Simchych
Ivan Mykolaichuk
Mykhailo Holubovych
Lidia Vakula
Fedir Stryhun
Music by Ukrainian folklore
Ivan Mykolaichuk (arranged)
Cinematography Vitaliy Zymovets
Production
company
Release date
  • 1972 (1972)
Running time
70 minutes
Country Soviet Union (Ukrainian SSR)
Language Ukrainian

The Lost Letter (Ukrainian: Пропала Грамота, translit. Propala Hramota, Russian: Пропавшая грамота, translit. Propavshaya gramota) is a 1972 Soviet musical-tragicomedy film by Dovzhenko Film Studios in Kyiv. The movie is considered a pearl of Soviet and Ukrainian cinema. The film is based on the novella The Lost Letter: A Tale Told by the Sexton of the N...Church by Nikolai Gogol from cycle Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka.

Synopsis[edit]

Cossack Vasyl (Ivan Mykolaichuk) prepares himself for a mounted voyage to Peterburg, the capital of the Russian Empire. Vasyl carries a hramota (sealed official document) given to him by the hetman through his secretary, Pereverny-kruchenko, that is rumored to cost ten Poods of gold. Vasyl's wife sews the hramota into his hat and his father (Vasyl Symchych) gives him magic tobacco to repel evil and an advice to find a good co-journeyman.

The film depicts the adventures of Vasyl in sequences that are filled with Ukrainian culture, and shows Ukrainian cuisine, costumes, traditions, mystical and comedy-filled situations, anecdotes, and a plethora of obstacles which Vasyl must overcome. On his way together with an evil servant (chort) he comes to a river crossing where a ferry carries people from one side to another. There he finds his partner in arms, Andriy, a zaporozhian cossack. Further along the way, something happens to the papers when they stop at an inn to rest. When Vasyl and Andriy arrive in St. Petersburg, they hand over the hramota to the baroness von Likhtenberg who passes them to the empress. The documents do not carry any information and Vasyl has to leave without results.

On the way home, both of them decide to shoot each other. As they are saying in unison the Nicene Creed (Apostles' Creed) they hear a voice that identifies itself as Kudz coming from a nearby rock, saying he was the same chort and the witch turned him into a rock after he helped Vasyl. Kudz asks them to throw him in a nearby marsh so as not to cause any further harm to random travelers on the road. As Vasyl arrives with his friend near their village, Dykanka, they meet a little boy who asks them to let him go to see the cossack, Vasyl who had supposedly returned from having seen the empress. Then they arrive and are met by the rest of the village population. Moments later, everybody awaits Vasyl again by his house to tell the story of his rendezvous with the empress. In the last scene, he wishes the little boy to have a loyal horse, an open field, and always be at people's service. The scene is accompanied by the triumphant Cossack march of the Ukrainian folkloric song about Sahaidachny.

Cast[edit]

Administrative issues[edit]

The film was supposed to be directed by Viktor Hres, featuring Anatoly Papanov in the lead role. However, when Hres became suddenly ill, he offered it to Borys Ivchenko. The latter agreed on the condition that the main role would be given to Ivan Mykolaychuk. The script was remade and the movie was filmed in 1972 at the Dovzhenko Film Studios. However, Soviet censors banned it from being screened. Nevertheless, in 1973 the Bureau of Soviet Cinematography Propaganda in Moscow published 50 thousand pamphlets with images of Ivan Mykolaychuk in role of Cossack Vasyl.

The movie was finally released after the fall of the Soviet Union. It received the Golden Pagoda Award during the movie festival in Bangkok (see Cinema of Thailand). All the songs in the movie were contributed by Ivan Mykolaychuk, who also helped Ivan Drach write the movie's script.

See also[edit]

References[edit]