JOURNEY INTO APRIL / CALATORIE IN APRIL / PUTESHESTVIE V APREL'

USSR, Moldova Film, 1962, 71 minutes
Scriptwriters: Dmitri Vasiliu, Leonid Rutitsky, Aureliu Busuiok
Director: Vadim Derbenyov
Composer: Eduard Lazarev
ANIMATION
Director: Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin
Artists: Vladimir Tarasov, Boris Fedyushkin
Cast: Aleksandr Zbruev, Raisa Nedashkovskaya, Trifan Gruzin, Zhenya Zoshchenko, Rolan Bykov
In 1961 in the magazine "Iunost'” [“Youth”] (whose circulation by that time had exceeded a million), they published Vasily Aksyonov's novel "A Ticket to the Stars". Ideologically vigilant critics sounded the alarm: the main character filled them with obvious apprehension. He dressed strangely, he spoke strangely, he did not strive for work achievements, he always was trying to escape somewhere, and most importantly, he did not want to take anything seriously. There appeared almost a term in critical use: “a star child”. It referred not only to the title of Aksyonov’s novel, but also to the tale of Oscar Wilde with a very unlikable main character.
“This boy is impudent; he has a ready tongue. He is not interested in what others think of him, his actions are frivolous. Imagining himself as almost a [Nietzsche] superman, condescending to people, he can, having appeared in a strange village, immediately sit down in the chair of the collective farm chairman, deceive the simple-minded Efim, posing as a journalist. He will drink wine for free, taking advantage of the fact that he is mistaken for an inspector or a big boss. He offers Maria to go with him, without even thinking about it beforehand. And what is sad is that such a character is shown with affection, as if we are offered to imitate him. And whether he will become a better man, no one knows; there is not a hint about this in the film. Is this really our contemporary? No!" (Andreev B. Razocharovanie [Disappointment] // Literaturnaia gazeta [The Literary Newspaper]. 1963. April 24.)
A characterization that sounds like an indictment, which at the time was applied by orthodox critics to almost any character of this type. But in this case, it refers to the hero of the film “Journey into April” made in Chisinau. Reading it, one can imagine absoulutely anything: from a film feuilleton to a portrait of an eccentric “angry young man”. But it is completely impossible to guess what the film really is. And it is a lyrical comedy, impeccable in its genre purity.
Most of all, “Journey into April” resembles Boris Barnett's equally impeccable in terms of its genre film “By the Bluest of Seas” (the one in which Viktor Shklovsky did not find either an opening or a resolution, only pure Caspian Sea air). Only here, instead of the Caspian Sea air, there is soaring in the Moldovan air of apple trees; instead of the waves of the Caspian Sea, there is the unhurried glow of a wide river; instead of the perky tenderness of Elena Kuzmina’s heroine, there is admiration of the bashful beauty of the young Raisa Nedashkovskaya. In a word, it is no coincidence that the venerable critic Inna Solovyova will call her on the whole not very charitable review in “The Soviet Screen”. (No. 14, 1963) “Solo for a Movie Camera”. Indeed, “Journey into April” is the directorial debut of Vadim Derbenyov, who had been the director of photography for all three films by Mikhail Kalik made in Chisinau (which amazed their contemporaries with their pictorial excess).
And here, in this "stream of life" (another pejorative term) bathes - sometimes literally - the main character, played by a recent graduate of the Shchukin Theater Institute, Aleksandr Zbruev. His closest kin are the boys from the famous lyrical comedy released in the same year, 1963. They walk around Moscow, and he travels in April (just like in an Okudzhava song of that time: "From one end to another end of April I am heading"). And he does not just travel - he is precicely “on duty” in it [like in Okudzhava’s song], bringing justice: helping the offended, killing boring goons with his grin. And so “the stream of life" (like in Barnet’s film, incidentally) washes him up every time just where he needs to be. (Yes, at the beginning the hero will confuse the village of Lower Lazureny with the Upper one... but it is there that he will find his fairytale love.)
Simultaneously with "Journey into April" Zbruev will play Dimka in the screen adaptation of "A Ticket to the Stars" (the film was called "My Younger Brother"). Only here he is obviously not a "star-child" but a sun-child. Kostika from Derbenyov’s film repeatedly demonstrates his kinship with the Sun in adorable animation inserts by beginners Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin and Vladimir Tarasov. With the sun, the moon, and the stars, he makes up a well coordinated jazz band (this insert will be cut out of the film at the last moment: after all, “today, he plays jazz; tomorrow, he betrays his Motherland”).
The nonverbal pictorial "stream of life" carries its truly fairytale hero over the wooden and clichéd script about the re-education of a hipster from the big city. And the gloomy local guys that pop up from it from time to time - the rivals of the hero, who see him as an urban "hipster" - just as easily disappear under his inimitable sunny smile. After all, lyrical comedy is, by its nature, an idyll; its plot is a celebration of trust in the world, of unity with it. It is about the fact that "sometimes everything is good with the world".
“Journey into April” eventually received a limited releas. To be fair, the wide distribution would hardly have brought more success with the audiences to the film, in which "nothing happens". ("By the Bluest of Seas" was also removed from the screens six months after its release).

Evgeny Margolit

A journalism student Kostika is travelling, by river steamer, to the place of his internship in the village of Lower Lazureny, but by mistake he goes ashore at Upper Lazureny. While Kostika is trying to get out of the village and get to his destination, wonderful adventures happen.
SHEDULE

November 18, Thursday
14:45
Journey into April (1963)
Film 35 mm.
12+

The film will be presented by actor Alexander Zbruev and film critic Evgeny Margolit.
Illuzion Cinema
Big Hall

November 19, Friday
16:25
Journey into April (1963)
12+
Illuzion Cinema
Small Hall

Made on
Tilda