Eldar Ryazanov, the legendary film director and screenwriter, turns 75 on November 18. He began his filmmaking career in 1950 by making short subjects and documentaries. But his first full-length film, the comedy Carnival Night (1956) brought him huge fame. It is widely considered one of the best Russian films ever made.
He reached the peak of his talent and popularity in the 1970s, through his collaboration with screenwriter Emil Braginsky, which first produced the classic film Watch out for the Automobile (1966). His comedies were distinguished by their witty dialogue, well-drawn comedic characters, and dramatic irony. His unqualified successes in the 1970s included Old Robbers, Garage, Office Romance, and, perhaps his best-loved film, Irony of Fate, a classic comedy of twisted fate that has become Russia’s signature New Year’s holiday film, aired on every major TV channel.
Later in his career, Ryazanov sought a tone more akin to tragic-comedy and, starting with the perestroika era, experimented with socially-oriented dramas and parables like Forgotten Melody for Flute (1987). His latest films, such as Old Nags (2000), have been less successful, as Ryazanov, like other Russian film makers, finds it hard to adapt his light humor and style to new Russian realities.
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