Thursday, June 04, 2009

Reel People: Emily Watson is Evgenia Ginzburg

The film is Within the Whirlwind, directed by Marleen Gorris and written by Nancy Larson.

Evgenia Ginzberg

Whether you spell her name Yevgenia, Eugenia, or Evgenia, all depends upon how you want to translate her name from Russian (Евгения Соломонова Гинзбург).

Evgenia was born in Moscow in 1904. Her father was a Jewish pharmasist who relocated their family to Kazan (capital of Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, in the East-Central part of the country).

Evgenia went to college in Kazan in 1920, where initially she studied social sciences before switching her studies towards being a teacher.

Beginning her career became a teacher and married doctor Dmitriy Fedorov. Together they had a son, Alexei who was born in 1926.

Evgenia remarried a few years after the birth of her son, to the mayor of Kazan, Pavel Aksyonov. She had a second son in her second marriage, Vasily Aksyonov, born in 1932.

During this time, not only a teacher, Evgenia also became an active community member. Teaching at Kazan University she moved up through the ranks. By 1934 she was named head of a new department at Kazan University over the history of Leninism.

On December 1, 1934, Bolshevik leader Sergei Mironovich Kirov was assassinated. This assassination set off what is commonly referred to as "The Great Purge." This great purge was in many ways the Soviet Holocaust which occurred in the late 1930's under Joseph Stalin.

This change in the political climate in Russia had a great impact of Evgenia's life who was forced to quit the University just a year after receiving her prestigious position.

The conflict continued as the Great Purge and Stalin's power increased. After a long fight, Evgenia lost her party card, and in February 1937 was arrested as she was accused of being a counter-revolutionary. After a six minute trial, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. This was followed by the arrest of her family and seizure of her property.

Evgenia was sent to many different camps across Russia, but the majority of her time was spent on the far Eastern edge of Russia in Magadan. In this port-town camp Evgenia, at a weak and unhealthy state was given the opportunity to be a nurse, at the recommendation of a German doctor at the camp, Anton Walter, who had been deported due to his German heritage.

Anton Walter and Evgenia eventually married.

In early 1949 Evgenia was released from the labor camp, but was required to stay in the city of Magadan. At this time she began to write her memoirs in secret, while she took on a role teaching kindergarten.

Despite Evgenia's release in Februray 1949, she was rearrested, with no reason given, in October of the same year. She was relocated to a labor camp in north-eastern part of Russia in the Kolyma valley.

Finally in 1955 she was released from prison, two years after Stalin's death. She was at this time allowed to return to Moscow.

She worked as a reporter in Moscow while she worked on her memoir, Journey into the Whirlwind. She finished her memoir in 1967, and the manuscript was smuggled out of Russia where it has since been published.

Evgenia died in 1977.

Within the Whirlwind

The film, about Evgenia Ginzberg focuses on the trials of Ginzberg, particularly her life after "The Great Purge" began, as opposed to early life and experiences with the communist party in 1920s and early 30s. The twice nominated Oscar nominee Emily Watson, will be playing the role of Evgenia, in what is supposed to be an award winning performance. Watson's supporting actors include a foreign cast, including the acclaimed German actor Ulrich Tukur, who will play the part of the German exiled doctor Anton Walter.

Director Marlen Gorris has impressed the Academy of Motion pictures before with her writing and directing of the Oscar winning film Antonia's Line, and the power of Evgenia's life as portrayed by Emily Watson could make a splash on this years film scene.

Could Emily Watson's portrayal of Evgenia Ginzberg earn an Oscar nomination/win for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?


Anonymous said...

A first view that sounds a perfect Oscarable project and vehicle for Emily Watson. Unfortunally, it hsn't a distributor yet

OSCAR said...