The copy of the Oscar statuette is right in the middle of the museum hall. In 1976, the movie of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosava Dersu Uzala was awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The Tuvan actor, Maksim Munzuk played the title role of the hunter, the native of the Ussuri taiga, having created a charming character of an openhearted and a simple man.
According to the senior research fellow of the arts and humanities department Lyubov Shoyduk, the unique items, recently given to the museum by the actor’s daughters, form the basis of the exhibition. Personal documents, the Oscar-winning film photographs, movie posters of the actor’s films and many other items are presented at the museum.
Lyubov Shuluevna Shoyduk remembers Maksim Monguzhukovich very well: while being a radio journalist she would repeatedly interview the actor. The liveliest recollections of his childhood were related to the gatherings with narrators of folk tales, who carried him away through their captivating stories to the world of dreams. When little Maksim started school in his home village of Mezhegey, teachers realized that the boy was a genius to acting and advised him to go to Kyzyl to study.
-We consider the copy of the Oscar statuette as one of the most important showpieces of the exhibition, and visitors have the opportunity to see what it looks like. The most valuable items for us, as for museum workers, are the documents. What amazed me the most is that the personal play scripts of the Munzuks have been very well preserved. The private letters of Maksim Monguzhukovich to his dear Kara-kys Nomzatovna from Russian Far East filming have also been given to the Museum.
“My dear Kara-kys, the mother of my children, the Great mother of my children!” this is how more than ordinarily Maksim Munzuk was addressing to his wife in his letters. They were holding correspondence for the whole filming period of more than one year. The artist was more than 60 years old at that time, and of course, it was very challenging experience for him, but he was doing his best. He was telling his wife that the filming was quite busy and plus depending on weather.
As a father and a family man, he was anxious about his children – he was asking about them and instructing them in some way. At the end of each letter, he bound to say, “I kiss my dear kids in their perky little noses”.
- Was he telling anything about the filmmaker in his letters?
- Yes, Maksim Munzuk was writing that Akira Kurosava was a filmmaker of global renown, and that he was very lucky to work with him. He was describing him as a very intelligent, laconic person, who never shouted while on a film set, never swore, and even his voice was very quiet and still. If Kurosava needed to stop filming, he would just say “stop”, and despite his gentle voice he was always been heard, and everything was stopping.
Akira Kurosava used to wear sunglasses all the time. The actor was writing that he wanted badly to look into his eyes and see what color they were, what were they saying, were they sorrowful or joyful, and, finally, what kind of person he was.
One day the production team decided to make haircuts and invited a hairdresser to come. Akira Kurosava had no choice but to take the sunglasses off. His eyes turned out to be not dark brown, as you would expect from an Asian man, but grayish green color. It was the eyes of knowledgeable and very wise man.
After the movie release, Maksim Munzuk became an iconic actor, having gained love of many people. His fans were writing letters to him. One of the letters from Kiev says:
Having watched the movie, I was calming myself down only by knowing that Dersu, or, rather Munzuk is alive, and nothing has happened to him…”
Maksim Munzuk attended the 12th Douarnenez Film Festival dedicated to ethnic minorities “People of Arctic – People of Brittany” that was taking place in France from 28 August to 6 September in 1987. People fell in love with the artist even there. He became an honorable freeman of the city of Douarnenez. French friends of the actor delivered the poster of the movie to Tuva.
The Deputy Mayor of Dournenez Michel Balannek and Brittany singer Andrea Cordell are now visiting Tuva to pay the tribute to Tuvan Dersu Uzala and to take part in celebrations of the 100th anniversary celebrations of the actor.
As Vladimir Vasiliev, the assistant director of the movie, was reckoning, Maksim Munzuk, having played the title role of Dersu Uzala, glorified Tuvan people.
The exhibition demonstrates the other movies with Maksim Munzuk’s participation:
1979 – Adventures On the Lord’s track
1981 – Melodrama Valentine by the play of Alexander Vampilov, in the role of an old Evenk. The film features such recognized actors like Inna Churikova, Rodion Nahapetov, Larisa Udovichenko, and others.
1988 – Gadanie na Baraney Lopatke in a role of an old man Adzha
The arts and humanities department have received a massive assistance from the history department of the Museum. Its chief, Shonchalay Ondar, skims the documents written in Latin alphabet. There is a military service record card, issued in 1936 to the mid-ranking captain of the revolutionary army of the Tuvan People’s Republic by the staff of the allied regiment. It is quite a massive document comprising exhaustive information: born in Mezhegey village, Tandy district; ethnicity – Tuvan; a stockbreeder; a party member; literate; was living in the village before the drafting in the army; no diseases found.
His birth certificate says: a father – Salchak Monguzhuk, a mother – Oyun Tariymaa Samdan. There are many other documents, for example, a Revolutionary Youth Association ID, issued in 1929; a work record book with a record of his assignment as a head of the theatre department in 1937.
Maksim Munzuk was a musician of the military band in cavalry squadron of the Tuvan People’s Republic, and we have also some of the photos preserved of the far 1930s.
The Great Artist is the name of the exhibition. All the visitors of the event will definitely feel joyfulness and be proud that such a talented and genius artist was born and living in Tuva.