When the Trees Were Tall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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
Leonid Kuravlyov
Music by Leonid Afanasyev
Cinematography Valeri Ginzburg
Edited by Natalya Loginova
Release date
  • 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 World War II Veteran Kuzma Kuzmich Iordanov does not work, drinks alcohol, makes his living by doing odd jobs. From time to time the Police department calls him in to shame him and threaten him with jail time because of his "parasitic" lifestyle, but all this does not bother him much.

One day Kuzma agrees to help an 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) and accidentally drops it. While running down the stairs, trying to catch it, he stumbles and gets hurt and sent to the hospital. The same old lady that he was delivering the washing machine for comes and visits him. He gets scared thinking she came to be paid for the broken washing machine, but it turns out, she only wanted to see if he was alright. As they talk she tells him her life story, as well as the story about one poor orphan child Natasha from her village. Kuzma, overcome with loneliness, decides to go out there and try to pretend to be Natasha's father.

Natasha indeed believes him to be her father, and takes him in. It turns out she is his exact opposite: independent, dependable, hardworking, but lonely like him. At first they don't get along too well, but soon Kuzma, inspired by her, changes his old ways.


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 23 February 2009. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Howard (February 22, 1965). "A Soviet Drama:'The Trees Were Tall' Opens at the Cameo". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2009. 

External links[edit]