Interview with Larisa Dereviannykh conducted by Geniya Dereviannykh on June 9th, 2019
Maggie Coffey, Sonia Kelly, and Pavel Parkhimovich transcribed, translated the interview. Megan Carlon, Maggie Coffey, Sonia Kelly, Veena Larsen, Izabella Martinez, and Gabriel Spira wrote the analytical note.
On June 9th, 2019, Geniya Dereviannykh interviewed Larisa Eduardovna Dereviannykh in Novosibirsk, Russia. The interview was transcribed and translated by Maggie Coffey, Sonia Kelly, and Pavel Parkhimovich in Fall 2021 as part of the Russian Movie Theater Project at William & Mary.
Larisa Dereviannykh was born on October 8th, 1956, and grew up in Siberia. Her mother worked in a large meat processing plant that also shared the location with the local movie theater (2:36). The movie theater and her mother’s place of work were close to Dereviannykh’s home, making the movies a focal point of Larisa’s childhood. Larisa describes fondly how going to the movies was a shared pastime among those of all ages in her community. Growing up, she usually went to this movie theater weekly with her younger sister and other children from the neighborhood. Larisa now lives in America with her husband and children.
As a child, Larisa Dereviannykh enjoyed watching movies that portrayed life differently than her experience growing up in the Soviet Union. Movies allowed the audience, including the interviewee, to live vicariously in various parts of the world, such as by the Black Sea in her favorite film, Scuba at the Bottom. Daily life in Siberia was a stark contrast to what Larisa Eduardovna saw in films, which made the movies such a transformative part of her childhood. Movies truly had a magical quality to Dereviannykh, capturing her attention and sparking her vivid imagination (4:53).
Like Scuba at the Bottom, Larisa mentions that she loves adventure films with a journey and nature (6:55). Further into the interview, Larisa Eduardovna mentions that she also enjoys watching comedies directed by Leonid Gaidai and other renowned Soviet directors, her favorites being the films of Alexander Sokurov, Marlen Khutsiev, and Eldar Ryazanov (7:48). Sokurov was internationally known for his drama Mother and Son and Khutsiev has achieved a cult following for his films I am Twenty and July Rain. Ryazanov’s film Irony of Fate is traditionally aired every New Year’s Eve in Russia.
Dereviannykh’s favorite Soviet actor is Innokenty Smoktunovsky; she believes that Smoktunovsky’s range of characters was incomparable. However, she also likes Yevgeny Samoylov, Yevgeny Matveyev, Nikolai Kryuchkov, and Nikolai Rybnikov, who she says acted in films about “нашей страны, нашего народа” (our country, our people, 25:49). Dereviannykh’s favorite foreign actor is Annie Girardot; she likes that Girardot was not too flashy or glamorous, but, rather, portrayed psychologically interesting characters. She also enjoyed Sophia Loren’s films.
When Dereviannykh first started going to the theater, tickets cost 5 kopecks. As time went on, tickets prices increased to 10 kopecks. The moviegoing routine itself has changed very little, people seek to get the most out of the film by sitting in the theater, eating, and talking to their neighbors. However, Dereviannykh mentions the significant impact of television on the traditional movie-going experience. As TV sets became more widely available, the “special and festive” (6:25) nature of movie-going decreased because she watched more and more films at home.
The tone of the interview is made more informal by the fact that the interviewer and the interviewee are related. However, it appears that the interviewer has a script that she is following while allowing for elaboration. The informal tone contributes to this interview as an exercise in nostalgia – Dereviannykh is speaking to her daughter about her own childhood, attempting to pass on her memories. She draws comparisons between the modern cinema industry and the cinema industry of her childhood and has a clear preference for the films and the nature of the industry in her childhood. For example, she tells the interviewer that advertising campaigns “стала более назойливой, менее правдивой” (became more annoying, less truthful, 31:46) after the Soviet period. Statements such as these both reveal Dereviannykh’s bias towards Soviet-era cinema and contribute to the nostalgic feel of the conversation. However, she makes a concerted attempt to back up the statements she makes on the nature of cinema-going with concrete recollections of her experience, which makes the interview a valuable piece of oral history. This is seen most explicitly in her description of the movie theater: she says it was “built at the beginning of the century, brick, three stories, with turrets created out of dark red [brick] — the whole building was made of dark red brick — and turrets. Pointed windows, huge, high. It was an extraordinary movie theater.” (2:53) Although her personal beliefs as to its grandeur feature in the statement, she also gives concrete details, thus allowing the historian to understand not only the physical space of the cinema but also the way that it was conceptualized by cinemagoers.