The premiere of the film "Chapaev" took place on November 5, 1934 at the "Titan" cinema in Leningrad. All work on the painting was completed shortly before this date, therefore, they did not even have time to print the posters. Only handwritten announcements announced the upcoming session. Therefore, the first session was held with a half-empty hall, but soon after it ended, huge queues lined up at the box office.
The scriptwriters and directors of the film "Chapaev" were Georgy and Sergei Vasilievs, known under the pseudonym "The Vasiliev Brothers". In fact, they were not even relatives, but just namesakes. Georgy Vasiliev was born in 1899 in Vologda, and Sergei a year later in Moscow. And the "brothers" met only in 1925. Three years later, they shot their first documentary, entitled "Exploit in the Ice".
The role of the legendary hero of the Civil War was played by the actor Boris Babochkin, who, by the way, like Chapaev, was also a participant in that war. Babochkin joined the Red Army in 1919 at the age of 15. After demobilization, Boris began attending a studio at the Saratov Drama Theater. The young actor made his film debut in 1928. It was the painting "Mutiny". It is interesting that the author of the novel, based on which the film was filmed, was Dmitry Furmanov, a former commissar of the 25th Infantry Division, commanded by V.I.Chapaev.
Chapaev Boris Babochkin played great, now it's hard to believe that other candidates were considered for this role - Nikolai Batalov and Vasily Vanin. Initially, the Vasilievs did not see Babochkin in the form of Chapaev, he was planned to be the orderly of the division commander Petka. But, in the end, Babochkin was chosen, although outwardly he did not look much like Vasily Ivanovich.
The movie "Chapaev" could not be called biographical in any way. For example, Anka the Machine Gunner is a purely fictional character. In Furmanov's novel "Chapaev", which became the basis for the film's script, not a word is said about her. True, they say that Anka had a very real prototype, the nurse Maria Popova fought in the Chapaev division, who had to take up a machine gun during one of the battles. For this heroic deed, the girl was awarded a watch.
Filming took place in Tver, although, according to the official version, Chapaev died on the Ural River. Moreover, he did not drown, but, seriously wounded, was transported by his soldiers to the other side, where he died. But, the film crew decided that the Urals could be replaced by the upper reaches of the Volga. And now the coast where the shooting took place is called Chapaevskaya Mountain.
Filming on the Volga took place in the spring, when the water in the river had not yet had time to warm up well. Boris Babochkin had to demonstrate excellent hardening, plunging into the Volga over and over again. In order not to catch a cold, I even had to keep warm with vodka.
The career of the actor Leonid Kmit lasted over 50 years. But, the audience remembered him well in his youth, playing the role of Petka. Previously, Kmit managed to star in several silent films. At first he was afraid of sound films, as he was embarrassed by a slight stutter. He recovered in the most unexpected way, accidentally fell into a well, and the stuttering disappeared.
The ending of the film was tragic, Vasily Ivanovich Chapaev dies, trying to cross the river. But, the Vasiliev brothers had prepared alternative options in which the division commander remains alive. And during the Great Patriotic War, a short video was shot with the name "Chapaev with us". In it, Chapaev safely swims to the opposite shore, where the Red Army men are waiting for him. This story, lasting only five and a half minutes, was released at the end of July 1941.
According to the Vasilievs, they wanted to show in the film a positive image of the commander of the Red Army, “so that our audience would love our heroes and hate our enemies.” The popularity of the film was also promoted by the fact that Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin loved him very much. he watched this picture more than 30 times, calling "Chapaev" the best film in Soviet cinema.
Already in 1935 "Chapaev" won the first prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. The popularity of the film was so great that some cinemas of the Soviet Union showed it for months. It turned out that too few copies were made, and the circulation had to be urgently increased. In January 1935, the picture was released on the screens of the United States, and then other countries of the world. At the end of the seventies, "Chapaev" was included in the top hundred films in the history of cinema.
In the Soviet Union, whole labor collectives went to this film. In the first year alone, the number of viewers exceeded 30 million. Americans at that time were not particularly interested in Soviet cinema, preferring their own Hollywood. But, the success of "Chapaev" was loud, the New York cinema "Cameo" showed it for three months in a row.