Russian actor Alexei Batalov, who starred in Oscar-winning melodrama “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears” and Cannes-winning film “The Cranes are Flying” has died at 88, news agencies reported Thursday.
He died overnight after months of serious illness, his assistant Vladimir Ivanov told TASS.
Batalov starred in Vladimir Menshov’s 1981 Oscar winner “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears” — a saga about three friends and their chequered love and work lives — as a manual worker who struggles in a relationship with a more successful career woman.
He was awarded a State Prize by the Soviet Union for his role in the film.
The actor also starred in Mikhail Kalatozov’s World War II movie “The Cranes are Flying”, which begins with lyrical love scenes with his co-star Tatyana Samoilova and then sees him die tragically in battle.
The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival, heralding a new thaw in Soviet arts after the 1953 death of Joseph Stalin.
“In the Soviet times when most heroes were macho, he personified an incredibly human subtlety and even fragility,” said Mikhail Shvydkoi, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative for international cultural cooperation, quoted by TASS news agency.
Another of Batalov’s most famous roles was as a cynic transformed by an adulterous affair in Iosif Kheifits’s 1960 film adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s novella “Lady with a Lapdog”.
Batalov was born in 1928 in the provincial city of Vladimir to a family of actors. He studied at the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre school.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he almost gave up appearing in films and taught at VGiK drama school as well as heading the Nika film awards.
In March 2014 he was one of more than 500 arts figures to sign a collective letter backing President Vladimir Putin’s move to annex Crimea from Ukraine.