Refined appearance and unbending character, incredible fame in the USSR and oblivion at home. Theater critic Natalya Vitvitskaya writes about the favorite of millions, a woman with a tragic fate, Barbara Brylska.
Barbara Brylska is a child of war. She was born in the tiny town of Skotniki near Lodz. The girl was always shy, quiet, did not ask for anything. These character traits will further define her creative biography. Basia was very fond of drawing, and her parents sent her to an art school. There the girl was noticed by the leaders of the theater group, and at the age of 15 she was taken on a cameo role in the fairy tale film Galoshes of Happiness. The aspiring actress received her professional education at the Lodz Theater School and the Warsaw School of Theater, Film and Television.
Even during her studies, in the 60s, Brylska played in the film Their Weekday, and then in the cult historical film by Jerzy Kavalerowicz, Pharaoh. The drama was nominated for an Oscar, the young actress in the role of the priestess of Kama was remembered by all film lovers, and critics called her beauty dazzling. In 1969 Jerzy Hoffman’s film “Pan Volodyevsky” was released, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Henryk Sienkiewicz about the bloody clash of the gentry and the Horde. Here Brylska played Kshisya – not the main, but memorable role – and again critics noted her natural grace and femininity. The name of the actress began to sound not only in Poland, but in all countries of the socialist camp.
With some exaggeration, we can say that foreign directors began to call her in films – however, they were directors who worked in the USSR. Brylska played in the popular Soviet films about the Indians Godfried Koltitz (“The Trail of the Falcon”) and Konrad Petzold (“White Wolves”), which were filmed in the GDR. The role of the beauty Katherine Emerson itself was not a breakthrough, they relied on the performer’s appearance: it was impossible not to notice, not to remember her. Incredible grace, casual sexuality enveloped the viewer, beckoning him from the screens.
Soon the actress was invited to appear in the Soviet epic “Liberation”; five films about the Great Patriotic War directed by Yuri Ozerov, shot jointly by film studios from several countries, were watched by millions of viewers. However, the “Polish” episodes, in which Brylska played a heroine named Helena, were lost against the background of the main storyline and the characters. More successful was the role of the quivering Marie Urbach in the film by Alexander Zarkhi “Cities and Years”, which shows a love line against the backdrop of a revolutionary hard times and a war scene.
Love in the Union
In the early 70s, Brylska starred in the title role in “Anatomy of Love” by Roman Zaluski. Frank, outrageous for those times love scenes produced the effect of an exploding bomb – the film literally took off in ratings. The role was not easy for the actress: she did not want to touch the bodies with her partner and therefore demanded that he wear a nylon jumpsuit, was shy and pinched on the site. But after this film, they began to talk about Barbara more and more often, including in the USSR. Young people bought up her photographs, posters with the image of the heroine were not available.
And on this wave of interest, Eldar Ryazanov invited Brylska to Moscow to audition for The Irony of Fate. There were many competitors, besides the Polish actress spoke Russian with an accent, but the director settled on her. Nobility, restraint, hidden strength of character and incredible femininity – she was so organic in the image of Nadia that she seemed to play herself. Meanwhile, relations on the site were not easy: proud and closed, Brylska allowed herself sharp statements about her colleagues in the shop, everyone spoke of her difficult nature. Part of the matter was that after “Anatomy of Love” the actress refused explicit love scenes, even kisses were difficult for her. In addition, a completely understandable jealousy of her glory also affected. Valentina Talyzina publicly announced that since she is voicing Nadia, Brylskoy “can only watch and walk.” Alla Pugacheva, performing songs in the film, and today can sarcastically address the actress about this.
Despite all the difficulties, the role in “The Irony of Fate” became Brylskaya’s calling card. For two years after the premiere in the USSR on January 1, 1976, the picture was watched by 280 million people. Along with the filmmakers, the leading actress received the USSR State Prize in the field of cinematography. It would seem that here it is – takeoff, the pinnacle of a career, a dream come true of great fame. But not everything was so simple.
Jealousy of the motherland
In Poland, the film did not have much success; today, only the older generation of Poles remembers the tape called “Happy New Year”. And Brylska herself was then nicknamed “the icy Snow Maiden” and stopped filming. The reason was not only jealousy, but also politics: the popularity in the USSR ran counter to the general discontent with Soviet domination. The Poles felt that the actress had betrayed her country.
In one of her interviews, Brylska said directly: “Your State Prize put an end to my career at home – I basically began to work abroad: in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Russia. In Poland, I was hardly given roles, I gradually dropped out of this artistic circle. ” The films in which the actress starred after “The Irony of Fate” did not resonate, and they began to forget about her.
Tragedy and hope
Personal life was also difficult. According to Brylska, she always had many admirers – the first handsome men in Poland, and even Russian boyfriends – but she did not wait for a reliable shoulder, support. The actress was married twice: the first husband demanded that she give up her career, the second loved to drink and hit women, and both cared little about her. In the second marriage, two children were born; Basia’s daughter became a model, she was promised a stellar career, but in 1993 a 20-year-old girl died in a car accident. Barbara Brylska was very upset by the tragedy, her ten-year-old son Ludwig saved her from thoughts of suicide. The work finally faded into the background.
Only in 1995 did she start acting again – despite her own convinced and even harsh statements that she was not a theater actress, Brylska took the stage of the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Singing Theater in Moscow. However, the performance of Roman Markholia “Quartet”, which takes place in a nursing home, was unsuccessful. Critics did not accept him at all, and the actress was finally disillusioned with the theater. However, Russian cinema still appreciated the “unearthly charm of Mrs. Barbara” – in the 2000s she starred in supporting roles in notable films: in the famous “Downhouse”, “Casus Belli”, “Strange Christmas”, “Admiral”. Then there was the sequel “The Irony of Fate” directed by Timur Bekmambetov – the picture became the highest grossing at the box office in Russia and the CIS in 2008. However, it had little in common with the original; not a trace remained of the warmth and warmth of Ryazanov’s film. Brylska did not hide from journalists that she agreed to shoot for the sake of money. Bitterness sounded in her words – the actress talked about how she lives alone on a small pension …
Perhaps the irony of fate of a beautiful and talented actress is that the country where she became a star does not exist today, and when it did, this country was considered an enemy in her homeland. But one way or another, the name of Barbara Brylskaya is inscribed forever in the history of Soviet cinema. For millions of viewers, she remains not just a beloved, but an iconic actress of her generation.