Nationality: Russian. Born: Ivan Ilyitch Mozhukin in Penza, 26 September 1887 (some sources give 1889); adopted the spelling Mosjoukine in France. Education: Studied law at the University of Moscow, two years. Family: Married 1) the actress Nathalie Lissenko; 2) Agnes Peterson; illegitimate son: the writer Romain Gary. Career: 1910—actor with stage company in Kiev, also toured in the provinces; 1911—moved to Moscow: became famous for his roles in Dumas's Kean and Rostand's L'Aiglon; film debut in The Kreutzer Sonata; then made films for the Khanyonkov studios and for the director Evgeni Bauer; 1915—began long association with the director Yakov Protazanov; formed production company with Protazanov and the producer Joseph Ermoliev; 1917–19—during the revolution, Ermoliev relocated the company in Yalta, then in Istanbul and Paris; company re-formed as Société des Films Ermoliev; 1921—directed the film L'Enfant du carneval.Died: In Neuilly, France, 17 January 1939.
Films as Actor:
Kreitzerova sonata (The Kreutzer Sonata) (Chardynin); Zhizn na Tzarya (A Life for the Czar) (Goncharov); Oborono Sevastopolya (The Defense of Sebastopol) (Goncharov) (as Napoleon III)
Kubok zhizhni i smerti (The Cup of Life and Death) (Hansen); Mirele Efros (Gai); Bratya razbotchniki (Brother Brigands) (Goncharov); Strasnia pokoynik (The Redoubtable Deceased) (Yuriev); Snotchak (The Daughter-in-Law) (Gai); Chelovek, drama nachidnya (Man: A Modern Drama) (Chardynin); Bratya (Brothers) (Chardynin); Krestyanskaya dolia (A Peasant's Fate) (Goncharov); Rabotchaia slobodka (Workers' Quarters) (Goncharov); Voina i mir (War and Peace) (Chardynin); Givoi troup (The Living Corpse) (Chardynin); Dourman (Vertigo) (Chardynin); Falchivi koupon (The False Note) (Chardynin)
Tchaz Boulat (Goncharov); Gorre Sarri (The Sorrows of Sarah) (Arkatov); Pianstvo i yevo pozledstvia (Drunkenness and Its Consequences) (Dvoretsky); Obryv (The Precipice) (Chardynin); Domik v Kolomna (The Little House in Kolomn) (Chardynin); Vot mchitza troika potchtovaia (The Troika) (Bauer); Diadiouskina kvartira (In the Maiden's Room) (Bauer); Straschnaia miest (Terrible Vengeance) (Starevitch); Notch pered Rozdestvom (Christmas Eve) (Starevitch) (as the Devil)
Revnost (Jealousy) (Chardynin); V roukatch bespotchadnogo roka (In the Hands of a Pitiless Destiny) (as Chardynin); Zhemtshina zavtrastchevo dnia (Woman of Tomorrow) (Chardynin); Ditya bolchogo goroda (Children of the City) (Bauer); Krisantemi (Chrysanthemums) (Chardynin); Tainstvennie nekto (The Beggar) (Chardynin); Sorvanetch (The Ballad) (Chardynin); Ty pomnis li? (Do You Remember?) (Chardynin); Shazka o spiatchek (Sleeping Beauty) (Bauer); V polnotch na kladbische (At Midnight in the Tomb) (Bauer); Rozdennie polzat utat ne mozet (The Silent Witnesses) (Bauer); Zlatcha notch (The Terrible Night) (Bauer); Zhizn na smerti (Life in Death) (Bauer); Slava nam, smert vragam! (Glory to Me, Death to the Enemy!) (Bauer); Taina Germanskovo posolstva (The Secrets of the German Ambassador) (Bauer); Ei gerochsky podvig (His Heroic Action; Honor of the Nation) (Bauer)
Ruslan i Ludmila (Ruslan and Ludmila) (Starevitch); Natasha Rostova (Chardynin); Vlast tmy (The Powers of Darkness) (Chardynin); Vozrozhdennia (Resurrection) (Chardynin); Potop (The Deluge) (Chardynin); Klub nravstvennosti (The Suicide Club) (Bauer); Petersburgskiya trushchobi (Petersburg Slums) (Protazanov and Gardin); Komedia smerti (The Comedy of Death) (Chardynin); Nikolai Stavrogin (Protazanov); Taina niegorodskoi yamarki (The Mysteries of the Novgorod Fair) (Protazanov); Vot vspynulo utro (The Other Love) (Sabinsky); Vsyou zhizn pod maskoi (Life behind a Mask) (Sabinsky); Deti Vanyousina (The Girl of Vaniousine) (Protazanov); Para gnedych (Diary of a Madman) (Protazanov); Kaitchka (The Seagull) (Protazanov); Smerti doma (The House of Death) (Protazanov); The Silent Bell-Ringer (Protazanov); Vo vlasti gretcha (Under the Yoke of Sin) (Protazanov and Asagarov)
Lyubov silna na strastyou potseluya (The Strange Passion of a Kiss) (Sabinsky); V boynoi slepote strastei (Blind Passion) (Sabinsky); Zhizn mig iskusstvo vetchno (Life Is Short but Art Is Eternal) (Sabinsky); A shchastiya bylo tak vozmotzno (And Happiness Will Be Possible) (Asagarov); Uchveli uzh davno krisantemi v sadu (When the Chrysanthemums Fade) (Arkatov); Pikovaya dama (The Queen of Spades) (Protazanov); Zhenshchina s kinzhalom (Woman with a Dagger) (Protazanov); Shkval (The Squall) (Protazanov); Le Parlementaire (Volkov); Na viershina slavy (The Height of Glory) (Volkov); Kulissi ekrana (Behind the Screen) (Volkov) (+ sc); Tanyets smerti (Danse Macabre) (Protazanov) (+ sc); Ugolok (The Right Sort) (Sabinsky)
Grekh (Sin) (Protazanov and Asagarov—serial) (+ co-sc)
Prokuror (Public Prosecutor) (Protazanov) (+ sc); Otets i syn (Father and Son) (Perestiani); Torguvi dom Karski (Karsky and Company) (Sabinsky); Dots Izrila (The Idol; The Daughter of Israel) (Tourjansky); Andrei Kozhukhov (Protazanov); Ni nado kruvi (Blood Need Not Be Spilled) (Volkov); Prokliatiye millioni (Cursed Millions) (Protazanov); Satana likuyushchii (Satan Triumphant) (Protazanov) (+ co-sc); Otets Sergii (Father Sergius) (Protazanov)
Taina korolevy (The Queen's Secret) (Protazanov)
Justice d'abord (The Public Prosecutor) (Protazanov) (+ sc); La Nuit du 11 Septembre (Protazanov); L'Angoissante Aventure (The Agonizing Adventure) (Protazanov)
La Maison du mystère (Volkov—serial)
Kean (Edmund Kean—Prince among Lovers) (Volkov); Les Ombres qui passent (Nadejdine and Asagarov); Le Lion des Mogols (Epstein) (+ sc)
Feu Mathias Pascal (The Late Mathias Pascal; The Living Dead Man) (L'Herbier)
Michel Strogoff (Michael Strogoff) (Tourjansky)
Casanova (Volkov); The Surrender (Sloman)
Der Präsident (The President) (Righelli); Der geheime Kurier (Le Rouge et le noir) (Righelli)
Adjudant des Zaren (Au service du Tsar) (Striljevsky); Manolescu (Manolesco, roi des voleurs) (Tourjansky)
Der weisse Teufel (The White Devil) (Volkov)
Le Sergent X (Striljevsky)
La Mille et Deuxième Nuits (Volkov)
Les Amours de Casanova (Barberis)
L'Enfant du carnaval (Volkov) (+ sc)
Nitchevo (de Baroncelli)
Films as Director:
L'Enfant du carnaval (+ sc, ro)
Le Brasier ardent (co-d, + sc, ro)
By MOZHUKIN: book—
Quand j'etais Michel Strogoff, with Jean Arroy, Paris, n.d.
On MOZHUKIN: books—
Arroy, Jean, Ivan Mosjoukine, Paris, 1927.
Gary, Romain, Promesse à l'aube, Paris, 1959, translated as Promise at Dawn, New York, 1962.
Tsivian, Yuri, and others, Silent Witnesses: Russian Films 1908–1919, London and Pordenone, 1989.
On MOZHUKIN: articles—
Mitry, Jean, "Ivan Mosjoukine," in Anthologie du cinéma, vol. 2, Paris, 1968
O'Leary, Liam, "Ivan Mosjoukine," in Silent Picture (London), Summer and Winter 1969.
Flickers, January 1980.
Classic Images (Indiana, Pennsylvania), November 1982.
Pedler, Garth, "Garth's Vintage Viewing," in Classic Images (Muscatine), December 1993.
Malandrin, Stéphane, "L'Albatros venu de Moscou," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1995.
Molnar Gal, P., "Egy azsiai Parizsban," in Filmvilag (Budapest), no. 4, 1995.
Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), February 1996; September 1996.
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Ivan Mozhukin was always more than an actor. He was a man of the cinema, a very remarkable actor, scriptwriter, and director. Of his two careers one was as leading star of the Czarist cinema, matinee idol, and focal point of an early Russian film culture. The early Russian cinema was perfervid, highly emotional, and melodramatic. It also drew on classic Russian writers. Its standards were high, and it produced directors of the caliber of Volkov, Protazanov, Bauer, and Tourjansky. Many of its actors were later to enrich the cinema of Western Europe. When the Ermoliev company emigrated in 1919 with their actors, designers, and cameramen, Mozhukin came with them, adopting the name "Mosjoukine," by which he is best known.
Mozhukin was born in Penza in 1887 and was intended for a law career. Drawn to the stage, he gained experience in provincial and Moscow theaters and soon drifted into films. In many of these his leading lady was his wife, the talented Nathalie Lissenko. His first film, in 1911, was The Kreutzer Sonata. In 1913 he had the good luck to be directed by Evgeni Bauer, who influenced his acting style, giving it subtlety and depth. In 1915 he joined the Ermoliev company with whose destiny he was to be closely linked. Outstanding films of 1916 were Arkatov's When the Chrysanthemums Fade, Protazanov's The Queen of Spades, and Volkov's Behind the Screen, with a script by Mozhukin. 1917 was a critical year for Russia but Mozhukin registered some of his greatest successes, Public Prosecutor, Satan Triumphant, and Father Sergius. In the last film, based on Tolstoy and directed by Protazanov, Mozhukin gave a virtuoso performance as the young officer who becomes a monk and resists in his old age the temptations of the flesh. His last Russian film was an adaptation of Elinor Glynn's novel Three Weeks, retitled The Queen's Secret. The Ermoliev company, having relocated in Yalta, fled from there to France via Istanbul. The film L'Angoissante Aventure was made en route and finished in Paris. Mozhukin, Lissenko, and Nicolai Koline were its leading players, and it was directed by Protazanov. It is about a lighthearted young man-about-town who has a run of bad luck and experiences misery and dejection. It gave Mozhukin an opportunity for a versatile performance. The Russians settled in the old studios of Montreuil near Paris and Protazanov directed a remake of Public Prosecutor under the title Justice d'abord. In Volkov's serial La Maison du mystère he established his French reputation and himself directed L'Enfant du carnaval. His most striking work as a director, was however, in the avant-garde Le Brasier ardent, a delightful comedy, dreamlike in its fantasy, in which he played a whole range of characters.
Alexander Kamenka continued the work of Ermoliev with his Albatros company for which many brilliant young French directors worked. In Kean, based on the life of the great English tragedian, Mozhukin had a wonderful opportunity to bring the story of the actor to life and interpret Hamlet and Romeo, even if in silent mime. Jean Epstein directed him in Le Lion des Moguls with designs by Bilinsky. L'Herbier's Le Feu Mathias Pascal gave him a Pirandello role which he played with memorable skill. Michel Strogoff by Tourjansky introduced him to the world's screens in a spectacular film widely distributed by Universal. Volkov's Casanova, also handled by Universal gave him similar exposure but a visit to Hollywood was not a success, and Edward Sloman's The Surrender did not enhance his reputation. He now played in several German films, Manolescu, directed by Tourjansky, and Le Rouge et le noir by Righelli, featuring Agnes Peterson whom he married, deserting his old partner Nathalie Lissenko. It is interesting to note that he was first choice for Gance's Napoléon but chose instead to take the role of Michel Strogoff.
He appeared in Volkov's sound film Der weisse Teufel (based on Tolstoy's Hadshi Murad) with some success, but from now on his star was in decline. Inferior remakes of past successes and minor roles in French films followed, and the once proud Russian star drifted into poverty and obscurity. He died destitute in the public ward of a Neuilly hospital and is buried with the brother Alexander in the lovely Russian Orthodox graveyard of Ste. Geneviève du Bois just south of Paris. He was a giant among silent screen actors, refined in his playing and dynamic and haunting in his personality. The second title of his great film Kean was Désordre et genie and that, alas, was true of him. He lived life to the fullest. Everyone I had asked who had known him always said "Mosjoukine, il etait fou."