Vsevolod Pudovkin
Pudovkin in Italy in 1951
Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin

(1893-02-28)28 February 1893
Died30 June 1953(1953-06-30) (aged 60)
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, actor, pedagogue
Years active1921–1953

Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin (Russian: Всеволод Илларионович Пудовкин, IPA: [ˈfsʲevələt ɪl(ː)ərʲɪˈonəvʲɪtɕ pʊˈdofkʲɪn]; 28 February 1893 – 30 June 1953)[1][2] was a Soviet film director, screenwriter and actor who developed influential theories of montage.[3] Pudovkin's masterpieces are often contrasted with those of his contemporary Sergei Eisenstein, but whereas Eisenstein utilized montage to glorify the power of the masses, Pudovkin preferred to concentrate on the courage and resilience of individuals. He was granted the title of People's Artist of the USSR in 1948.


Vsevolod Pudovkin was born in Penza into a Russian family, the third of six children. His father Illarion Yepifanovich Pudovkin came from peasants of the Penza Governorate, the village of Shuksha and worked in several companies as a manager and a door-to-door salesman. Vsevolod's mother Yelizaveta Aleksandrovna Pudovkina (née Shilkina) was a housewife.[4][5]

A student of engineering at Moscow University, Pudovkin saw active duty during World War I, being captured by the Germans. During this time he studied foreign languages and did book illustrations.[6] After the war, he abandoned his professional activity and joined the world of cinema, first as a screenwriter, actor and art director, and then as an assistant director to Lev Kuleshov.

In 1924, he married Anna Zemtsova.[7] Pudovkin asserted that his wife encouraged him for pursuing a career as a filmmaker.[8]

His first notable work was a comedy short Chess Fever (1925) co-directed with Nikolai Shpikovsky. José Raúl Capablanca played a small part in it, with a number of other cameos presented. In 1926 he directed what would become one of the masterpieces of silent movies: Mother, where he developed several montage theories that would make him famous. Both movies featured Pudovkin's wife Anna Zemtsova in supporting female parts (she left cinema shortly after).

The film is not shot, but built, built up from the separate strips of celluloid that are its raw material.

— Vsevolod Pudovkin[3]

His first feature was followed by The End of St. Petersburg (1927), and Storm over Asia (also known as The Heir of Genghis Khan, 1928), titles which compose a trilogy at the service of the bolshevik revolutionary policy.

In 1928, with the advent of sound film, Pudovkin, Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov signed the Manifest of Sound, in which the possibilities of sound are debated, and always understood as being in a state of tension and nonsynchronization with the image. This idea would be brought to bear in his next pictures: A Simple Case (1932) and The Deserter (1933), works that do not match the quality of earlier work.The Heir to Genghis Khan (or Storm over Asia; 1928). Pudovkin was publicly charged with formalism for his experimental sound film A Simple Case, which he was forced to release without its sound track.[3] In 1935 he was awarded the Order of Lenin.

After an interruption caused by health concerns, Pudovkin returned to movie making, this time with a number of historical epics: Victory (1938); Minin and Pozharsky (1939) and Suvorov (1941). The last two were often praised as some of the best movies based on Russian history, along with the works of Sergei Eisenstein. Pudovkin was awarded a Stalin Prize for both of them in 1941.

During World War II he was evacuated to Kazakhstan where he directed several patriotic war movies. He also played a small part in the Ivan the Terrible movie (as God's fool). With the end of war he returned to Moscow and continued his work at the Mosfilm studio, making biographical and war movies. In 1947 he was awarded another Stalin Prize for his work on Admiral Nakhimov, and in 1950 — his second Order of Lenin and a third Stalin Prize for Zhukovsky. His last work was The Return of Vasili Bortnikov (1953).

Apart from directing, screenwriting and acting, Pudovkin was also an educator and a journalist, author of several books on film theory, professor at VGIK, president of the cinema section at VOKS (since 1944) and a member of the Soviet Peace Committee.

Vsevolod Pudovkin died on 30 June 1953 in Dubulti, Latvian SSR after a heart attack. He was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery. One of the streets in Moscow is named after Pudovkin (see Pudovkin street).


Year Original Title English Title Role Notes
1920 В дни борьбы In the Days of Struggle Actor
1921 Серп и молот Sickle and Hammer Andrey Screenwriter; assistant director
Голод... голод... голод... Hunger... Hunger... Hunger... screenwriter; assistant director
1923 Слесарь и канцлер Locksmith and Chancellor Screenwriter
1924 Необычайные приключения мистера Веста в стране большевиков The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks Shban Art director
1925 Луч смерти The Death Ray Father Revo - Fascist Boss Screenwriter; assistant director; art director
Шахматная горячка Chess Fever Director (with Nikolai Shpikovsky)
1926 Механика головного мозга Mechanics of the Brain Director; screenwriter
Мать Mother Police Officer Director
1927 Конец Санкт-Петербурга The End of St. Petersburg German Officer Director
1928 Потомок Чингиз-Хана Storm over Asia Director
1929 Живой труп The Living Corpse Fyodor Protasov
Веселая канарейка The Happy Canary Illusionist
Новый Вавилон The New Babylon Police intendent
1932 Простой случай A Simple Case Director (with Mikhail Doller)
1933 Дезертир The Deserter Director
1938 Победа Victory Director (with Mikhail Doller)
1939 Минин и Пожарский Minin and Pozharsky Director (with Mikhail Doller)
1941 Суворов Suvorov Director (with Mikhail Doller)
Пир в Жирмунке Feast in Zhirmunka Director (with Mikhail Doller)
1942 Убийцы выходят на дорогу The Murderers are Coming Director (with Yuri Tarich); screenwriter
1943 Во имя Родины In the Name of the Fatherland German General Director (with Dmitri Vasilyev); screenwriter; actor
Юный Фриц The Young Fritz Officer Short, actor
Иван Грозный Ivan the Terrible Nikola, Simpleton Beggar Actor (final film role)
1947 Адмирал Нахимов Admiral Nakhimov Prince Menshikov Director
1948 Три встречи Three Encounters Director (segment)
1950 Жуковский Zhukovsky Director
1952 Возвращение Василия Бортникова The Return of Vasili Bortnikov Director (with Dmitri Vasilyev)

Published works


  1. ^ Schnitzer, Luda (1973). Cinema in Revolution. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306802856.
  2. ^ Gillespie, David C. (2000). Early Soviet Cinema. Wallflower. ISBN 1903364043.
  3. ^ a b c The Encyclopaedia Britannica guide to Russia : the essential guide to the nation, its people, and culture. London: Robinson. 2009. pp. 208–213. ISBN 9781593398507.
  4. ^ Vsevolod Pudovkin (1976). Collection of Works in Three Volumes. Volume 3. — Moscow: Iskusstvo, p. 288-289, 322, 489
  5. ^ Alexander Karaganov (1983). Vsevolod Pudovkin. — Moscow: Iskusstvo, 272 pages, p. 3
  6. ^ Bryher (1922). Film Problems Of Soviet Russia. Riant Chateau TERRITET Switzerland. p. 44.
  7. ^ Rollberg, P. (2009). Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet cinema. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6072-8. OCLC 228744396.
  8. ^ Ryabchikova, Natalie (10 August 2018). "The Disappearing Theoretician: From Anna Li to A.N. Pudovkina". Apparatus. Film, Media and Digital Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe. Media and Digital Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe (6). doi:10.17892/app.2018.0006.109. ISSN 2365-7758.