Yakov Protazanov (1881-1945)

Aelita (1924)

Yakov Alexandrovich Protazanov (Russian: Я́ков Алекса́ндрович Протаза́нов; January 23 (O.S. February 4), 1881 – August 8, 1945) was a Russian and Soviet film director and screenwriter, and one of the founding fathers of cinema of Russia.

In the period from 1911 to 1918 he directed some 80 features, including The Queen of Spades (1916) and Father Sergius (1917), which have been acclaimed as his masterpieces. Ivan Mozhukhin starred in many of his early films.

After the Russian Revolution Protazanov resolved to stay in Europe but returned to USSR in 1923. The following year, he produced Aelita, arguably the first Soviet science fiction movie.

In 1928, he directed the White Eagle, with Vsevolod Meyerhold and Vasili Kachalov. The Three Million Trial (1926) and St. Jorgen's Day (1930) launched the film careers of two outstanding Soviet actors, Igor Ilyinsky and Mikhail Zharov.

His last acclaimed feature was a screen version of Alexander Ostrovsky's play Without Dowry in 1937. Its cast featured many celebrated actors from the Maly Theatre.