«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»
N.A.Nazarbayev

Nurmukhan Zhanturin. Actor who played himself

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"How many vain illusions have I had! I believed in Gudkovsky's kindness, I hoped for reforms and government help, and went to the Tsar. I burned with the idea of civilization, of which Chernyaev spoke

How many hopes and how many disappointments! But I am healthy and life is ahead of me. This is a quote from the 1957 film "His time will come", thanks to which the image of Shokan Ualikhanov forever remained in the memory of the people as it was created at that time a young but unusually gifted actor Nurmukhan Zhanturin.

Shokan Ualikhanov in the image of Zhanturin was easternally unbiasedly restrained, in the European aristocratic way tightened and gradually open and willful, like a wild horse, untrained to the arcana. Zhanturin contemporaries recalled: "He did not play Shokan’s role, he was himself. So many traits were similar in character and fate of these two great personalities.  

"I remember Nurmukhan Zhanturin, the words that he said. Sitting behind dastarkhan, someone asked him the question: "What is the most valuable role for you?" I remember, he said: "If at the time when I was doing Begalin's "His time will come…" I would trade the rest of my life for six months if I could go back to that time."

Bakytzhan Alpeisov, Honored Artist of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

He's loved films since he was a child. After graduating from school, Nurmukhan came to Alma-Ata, entered a theater school on film mechanics. There, one of the teachers drew attention to the young man with a distinctive appearance and velvety baritone and advised him to go to the artists. Zhanturin was lucky enough to enter the acting school and then the Tashkent Institute of Theatre Art. In the third year of the Institute, Nurmukhan received an offer to star in the film "Alitet Goes to the Mountains" (1948) by the great master of cinema screen Mark Donskoy.

He was really lucky. His partner on a platform became the legendary actor Lev Sverdlin who played Alitet. The role of chukcha Tumatuga revealed in the beginning actor Zhanturin his main distinctive qualities: liberated mighty temperament, psychological magnetism and free plasticity. It would seem that in the movie actor opened up a great opportunity to become a hero of fascinating adventure films. But Nurmukhan was already dreaming of a stage with its lively, momentary magic of transformation, the atmosphere of theatrical stage.

 Having returned from Tashkent to Alma-Ata in 1952, Zhanturin entered the main troupe of the Kazakh Academic Drama Theatre. The first performance with his participation was the play by Gabit Musrepov "Kozy Korpesh and Bayan-Sulu" (1953). Kodar, performed by a young actor has found new colors and more complex sounds. Zhanturin changed the well-established schematic interpretation of his character as a villain and envious, and his Kodar went to murder because of a mad love for Bayan. The same interpretation of the image of Kodar was preserved by him and in the film adaptation of the play ("A Poem about Love", 1954). This film brought him first glory.

Whatever role Zhanturin did not play, he experienced it on stage passionately, painfully, tragically. Many people were surprised how the young actor could manage to survive in his life so strong and harsh feelings. Among his most famous roles were Kebek in the play "Enlik-Kebek" by Mukhtar Auezov, Chokan Valikhanov in the play of the same name by Sabit Mukanov, doctor in the drama by Nazym Hikmet "All forgotten," and behind them a series of heroes of Shakespeare′s tragedies.

Zhanturin has not yet been recorded in the rebellious novices, all his rebellion manifested itself only in competition with the strongest venerable actors in the troupe. It was the same in "Othello". Great Moor played Shaken Aymanov, who came up with a not too comfortable, but quite spectacular misanthropic scene. Under the weight of Yaga's hawks, he fell down the stairs and hung his head down. At this point, Zhanturin suddenly rolled up in silence. His hero looked at the suffering of his defeated opponent with interest, enjoyed them, while whistling some song. Spectators, holding their breath, watched the silent duel of the two actors. Aymanov became aware of his uncomfortable pose, and everyone expected that behind the scenes he would severely reprimand his young colleague, but in reality Shaken appreciated the live improvisation of his talented partner. The gentleman in the theatre was loved, especially the corinthians of the stage. 

"I remember one scene. Great mentor Molière raised his disciple Muaron to the height of the perfection of creativity and suddenly the scoundrel Muaron betrays the mentor. I did not have this scene. One day at the rehearsal Zhanturin stood up, waved at me and left. I went to look for him all over the theatre. He was in his dressing room: sitting and drinking tea. I went in, sat down to him and said: "Yeah, I can't, it's not working." And he says to me, "Have you ever betrayed your friends?" I say, "No, I don't think so." He says, "I've been betrayed. I've been betrayed, and now I'm betrayed. I always forgive them. I say, "God is your judge." But there's still a grudge. It's the same with Muaron, your hero. Do you understand me?" I say, "I understand."

Toleubek Aralbai, Honored Artist of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

 The gentleman loved theatre, but cinema was another of his passions. It gave him a loud name and the image of a rebel, a willful lonely hero. It all began with the first picture of the young director Larissa Shipitko "The Smoke" (1962), shot by Chingiz Aitmatov′s story "Camel′s Eye. It so happened that this film was a turning point in the fate of the Kazakh actor. In the beginning, the leaders of "Kyrgyzfilm" long resisted the fact that the main role was approved by the Kazakh actor. Later, when the director managed to convince them, Kazakh filmmakers resisted. Neither prescriptions of the Ministry of Culture of the Union nor negotiations at the highest level shaken the leaders. Despite the threats from film makers who frightened the actor by stripping him of his titles and separating him from the theatre, Zhanturin still went to Kyrgyzstan for shooting.

Zhanturin created a multilayered image. Rigid, selfish, dangerous to others Aubakir Jurayev performed by Zhanturin was not a scoundrel. The sneaky ones were the phenomena that gave rise to these qualities in him. The main thing in Zhanturin's hero is his struggle for the human. In the finale of the painting, the hero leaves the brigade, not reconciled with the established orders there. In this departure by unfathomable coincidence, the drama of the heroes was prophetic for the actor.

The theater was going through another era of change. In 1965, Azerbaijan Mambetov was appointed to the post of chief director. He began a decisive struggle for the national repertoire and, first of all, shot the productions of his predecessor, and then disagreements began between the leading actor and the new director. Zanturin had to leave the theater for many years. 

 "Damir,” he told me “after all, the actor must live in the theater. Daily rehearsals, participation in performances - it is oxygen for the actor. When you have a house, you know, some confidence appears. And so you walk around this studio, hiding your gaze, looking into the directors' faces - it breaks the man. The look becomes questionable, you know? And it doesn't paint the actor. An actor has to be free, proud,"

Damir Manabay, film director.

  There's something called a genetic code. No matter who he is, a person carries this code of memory of previous generations. Zhanturin was born in the steppes of Mangistau, where proud and freedom-loving people have lived for centuries. It is said that his mother gave birth to him on a roaming, riding a camel. She was sixteen. She was the wife of Seidakhmet Umurzin. But because of a complicated family relationship, she left him with a three-month-old child in her arms. She walked thirty kilometers and never came back to her husband. She gave her son the name of her grandfather, Zhantore. One day she had a dream, in which he revered in his homeland as St. Zhantore gave her an apple with the words that passes her holiness, which will inherit three generations. The young woman was frightened and repulsed by this gift. As the family legend says, his great-grandfather's covenant retained its power, and maybe his grandson's rebellious soul was not at rest.

In the years when the theatrical masterpieces of Zhanturin remembered only critics, he was full of creative energy played almost fifty roles in the movies. In his acting biography, there was a cycle of acute Basma films, among which were popular among the people "Dzhura" (1964), "Rope Walker" (1964) and "The Seventh Bullet" (1972). But there were also roles, where he played the heart.

Complex and diverse was his Tanabai from the film "Running of a Pacer" (1968) by Chingiz Aitmatov. The actor recalled: "The complex range of experiences of the hero, the outstanding strength of character, passion, inner crisis I had to pass almost without words: a gait, a turn of shoulders, rapidly changing expression of eyes, facial expressions, required the ability to possess the plasticity of the mental and physical. Unfortunately, the outstanding cameraman Sergei Urusevsky, who made his debut in this film as a director, was fond of montage and visual delicacy. In the final editing the film was a continuous experiment, searching for light, shadow effects, unusual angles and objects. The director tried to shoot even through the glass aquarium and completely forgot about the actors. In protest, Zhanturin left the site and four days did not leave the hotel, forcing the director to give up to the actor.

Nurmakhan Zhanturin met his Margarita in Tashkent during his student years without being a master. And then everything was like in a Bulgakov novel. First, there were roses and laurels, then they were replaced by spikes and biting glances of envious people. Margarita Iovleva was not only a faithful companion of his life, but also his support. As a theater critic, she knew all his strengths and weaknesses, supported him in difficult moments. She understood that he was called to be the ruler of the thoughts of his people. Zhanturin was looking for heroes of unconventional fate, dreamed of playing Richard III, Genghis Khan.

He was sent scripts, but he was not an omnivorous actor. He had to comprehend and pass through each image to tell about someone else's fate, multiplying it by his own. Therefore, contemporaries of his work seemed one long confession of the actor and man Nurmukhan Zhanturin.

Directed by "Sultan Beybarys" (1989) Bulat Mansurov recalled that the script was written with a scope on Shakena Aymanova, but fate has disposed otherwise. After the tragic death of Aymanov director did not hesitate to choose - Nurmukhan Zhanturin. There were fears that the actor excommunicated from the theater lost his form, but Zhanturin knew how to adjust his acting instrument. From the first appearance on the set of the entire group recognized - we have a sultan Beybarys.

This role became the apotheosis for Zhanturin. The film was released in 1989. In the same year, at the representative folk festival in Russia, Nurmukhan Zhanturin, together with Nonna Mordyukova, was awarded a special prize and diploma for outstanding contribution to the profession of actor. It was the actor's finest hour, but his soul continued to pine for the theatre. Even during the shooting of Sultan Babars, he was invited to play the role of Macbeth in Karaganda theater. He could not refuse.

His last role in the movie - a drama by Damir Manabay "Surzhekei - the angel of death. The film revealed the terrible truth about the genocide of the Kazakh people, about millions of Kazakhs who died during the famine of 1930s. Zhanturin played the role of village elder Pahreddin, an intelligent man who wanted to see how all this would end without accepting either side of the conflict.

The filming was in full swing when the difficulties began. Mangishlak is harsh weather conditions, frequent dust storms, and the heat of up to 50 degrees. Many scenes were shot in the evening. The overvoltage burned down the generator, then another one, the situation of days of forced downtime, then ran out of money, and the whole group parted. When the funds for the shooting still found the unexpected happened: Zhanturin died. Already then the members of the crew remembered the scene of farewell Pahreddin, the hero of Zhanturin, with his wife: 

“And this is you Syrga? - Dad, what is wrong with you? - A bird just flew right out from under my feet. I thought my soul had flown away. - Don't say that, Dad.”  

Zhanturin's talent was truly national. But his gift, his acting diapason, was wider than the totalitarian theater could give. He was too great, strong, noble for his time.

Zhanturin often repeated the words of one of the characters in Gabit Musrepov’s play: "I will sing beautiful in people and expose the bad that my people, becoming better, cursed evil and meanness.” Both in life and in his works Nurmukhan Zhanturin defended this right to be himself, to remain human.

Author: Ayan ADEN