"Your Honor, Lady Luck!" Customs officer Vereshchagin from the "White Sun of the Desert"
If you try to make a list of the most favorite characters of Soviet cinema among the audience, I am convinced that customs officer Pavel Vereshchagin from the movie “White Sun of the Desert” will take one of the top lines in it. “You know me, Abdullah. I don’t take bribes. I’m sorry for the power ...” These words came from the lips of a retired customs officer to more than one generation of viewers
Even while working on the script, Motyl thought about who can translate this role on the screen. And Luspekaev was one of his main candidates. But I didn’t believe in participation in the shooting of Pavel Borisovich - four amputation of the feet did not leave any chances.
Who else was considered for the role? Efim Kopelyan, Boris Livanov and even weightlifter Yury Vlasov were invited to the tests. But none of them did not suit the director. And Motyl ventured yet to go to Luspekaev, who at the time was learning to walk again.The director offered Luspekaev to act on crutches: Vereshchagin - a former officer, disabled World War I. Or a customs officer, wounded by smugglers in both legs.
- Come on, Volodya, first I will play what is written in the script, and only then some invalid. Don't let my legs embarrass you. “I invented boots with metal stops inside,” said Pavel Borisovich.
He kept a diary. Here is a fragment from it: “The cinema people have just left. They are offering to try for a small, but very interesting role. I wound up. I said a lot. I worry that my legs may not be allowed to take off.
And it played. And How! Despite the pain in the legs, the daily transitions in the heat, in the sand dust, leaning on the stick and shoulder of Inna's wife. And all by himself. Without doublers. Only one moment is in the film, where he was replaced by stuntman Alexander Massarsky: Vereshchagin kicked the bandits overboard. Boots Vereshchagin shown close-up. And the socks of Luspekaev's boots sagged at an emphasis, and this would be visible on the screen. And after the shooting day, Luspekaev went to the seashore, slipped off his feet, lowered his legs into the water and sat for hours to let the pain go. And sometimes he tied metal fins to his legs and flew two kilometers from the coast. They shouted: "Drown!" He otchichalsya: "drown - remember ..."
This role in the film script was conceived as a simple episode in which he only needed to drink vodka without stopping, bending over a bowl of black caviar. But after the arrival of Luspekaev it was significantly expanded, making Vereshchagin one of the key characters
But he has a real historical prototype. Script writer Valentin Yezhov, collecting material for the script, came across the biography of the officer of the Russian border guard Mikhail Pospelov. On the eve of the Civil War, Mikhail Pospelov, the staff captain, was also known and feared by all the smugglers and the leaders of the robber gangs from Persia who were operating on the Russian border in the responsibility zone of the Hermabian border detachment of the Transcaspian border brigade. Heading this squad, he received the nickname “Red Shaitan” from the trespassers for his lush, fiery red mustache and the ability to suddenly appear with his border guards on the smugglers' secret trails. Exactly the same oasis in the desert as the Vereshchagin compound was a detachment garden created by Pospelov, in which walnut, apple, pear, cherry, apricot and cherry plum grew.There was also a man-made pond, although without sturgeon, but with carps. Like Vereshchagin, in the times of anarchy, Pospelov turned his house into a small fortress, armed with a machine gun, grenades and even a “bomb bomb”, having trained his wife Sophia to manage all this “economy”.
Feeling his powerlessness to stop the Basmachi excesses with a handful of border guards remaining in the detachment, the experienced commander, like his film image, suppressed the longing by the tried and tested Russian means - a strong "Pervak." And most importantly, Mikhail Pospelov was also hurt for the power, because he did not leave in 1917 through a cordon or into the interior of the country, like many officers and soldiers of the Transcaspian border brigade. And this insult from him in a hereschaginsky way poured into the energy of action. Under conditions when the Social Revolutionaries were still in charge of Germab in dozens of miles, when fierce battles of Red Army men with British invaders were going on for Chardjou and Mary, the protection of the state border was restored at the site of the Pospelov detachment. He assembled intelligent local horsemen as a detachment, taught them methods of using weapons, and bought fodder and food at his own expense. Perhaps that is why the Soviet government left Pospelov as the head of the detachment.In 1919, he became commander of the border battalion, and in 1921, commander of the border regiment, who was supervised by the entire Soviet-Persian border. And yet Colonel Mikhail Pospelov managed to create a border school for junior officers. The experience of the border guard, the strength of his character helped in the twenties to successfully carry out the Karakum expeditions of academicians Alexander Fersman and Dmitry Scherbakov in the search for reserves of sulfur and other minerals.
For Luspekaev, filming in “The White Sun ...” became a ticket to return to the profession. Motyl suggested that he play in his next film “Forest” in the role of Neschastlivtseva, Konchalovsky offered the role of Astrov’s doctor in “Uncle Vanya”, Lioznova considered him as one of the candidates for the role of Muller, from Tovstonogov invitations came to Othello and Boris Godunov
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