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Serious ideas intertwined with spectacular plot

In late summer, Vitebsk’s historical centre is to become a film set — with shooting dedicated to the 20th century’s two greatest avant-garde painters: Marc Chagall and Kazimir Malevich
By Tamara Mitrokhina

Famous Russian director Alexander Mitta has written the script for the new film. He is already known for a host of wonderful films: Shine, Shine, My Star; How Tsar Peter the Great Married off His Moor; The Crew; The Border. Taiga Romance.

The new film bears a poetic yet obscure working title: A Miracle Play about Chagall. Of course, miracle plays were medieval mystery plays exploring the miraculous lives of the saints. The initial title was Commissioner Chagall and Citizen Malevich but the International Chagall Committee insisted that the title should be changed before it would approve the script. Mr. Mitta admits that the title may yet change again, having chatted with Vitebsk journalists.

Combining serious ideas with spectacular plots is Alexander Mitta’s trademark. He reveals that art critique and melodrama will collide in the film. The plot’s villain (‘a provincial Robespierre’ as Mitta calls him) falls in love with Chagall’s wife Bella. He employs underhand methods to try and ‘win’ her, involving Chagall’s family in blackmail. Finally, to save her husband from a political article which would bring his execution, Bella agrees to betray him.

Mr. Mitta admits that the events in the film are entirely fictional and certainly not evident in the artist’s biography, since there was no such ‘love triangle’ in the life of Chagall and his muse Bella. In fact, the whole world knows of their devoted romantic love, floating through Vitebsk heavens.

The director is yet to disclose who will play the lead roles but shooting is to begin in late July-early August.
According to Mr. Mitta, chief artist Eduard Galkin is conjuring up the Vitebsk of the 1920s for the set ‘as if by jigsaw’. Naturally, all must be done within a strict budget. “How can we create the world of Chagall without his pictures? Of course, they will be in the film! However, his family asks for 2,600 Euros each time one of his paintings appears on camera. Fortunately, we have reached a compromise of a 50 percent discount (or even more),” he tells us.

The premiere will take place in Vitebsk, Chagall’s native town. Mr. Mitta hopes that he can do justice to the beauty of this ancient settlement, saying “Vitebsk is a dynamic, cheerful city, full of life, which I hope will be obvious from the film.”
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