Vysotsky, Thank You for Being Alive (Высоцкий. Спасибо, что живой!) is a 2011 biopic about legendary Russian bard and singer-songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky (Владимир Высоцкий). Vysotsky, who died in 1980, is one of the best-loved cultural figures in Russian and Soviet history. There have been numerous books and movies made about him, in addition to his own vast output of songs, poetry, films, and performances. This film was written by Nikita Vysotsky (Никита Высоцкий), his son.
The film tells a stylized version of the life of the singer by depicting several days near the end of his life. It shows his struggles with both the authorities—the Uzbekistan branch of the KGB, who are concerned about his forthcoming concert tour of Central Asia—and with his own failing health.
The film was extremely popular and successful; it was the highest-grossing film of the year, although audiences ended up giving it mixed reviews. It was nominated for many awards, including five Golden Eagles, but won few, including only one Golden Eagle for best supporting actor for Andrey Smolyakov (Андрей Смоляков), who played a KGB agent. (Sergey Bezrukov, Сергей Безруков, who played Vysotsky, was not officially credited until much later—the film’s producers wanted to hide his participation, as if to suggest that no actor could possibly portray Vysotsky.)
The film got mixed critical reviews: Many artists and singers who are also fans of Vysotsky’s were deeply disappointed by the film, finding that it did not portray Vysotsky accurately as either a singer or a human being. Yet Vysotsky’s son, the film’s writer, has said that it came out as he wanted, which presents the possibility that some people’s objections to the film were because it tried to portray a mythical hero as simply a single human man. Film reviewers praised it as a film, including for its technical merits. Film.ru went so far as to call it “the first Russian blockbuster that was filmed for personal reasons, and not only to earn money.”
Director: Pyotr Buslov
Stars: Sergey Bezrukov, Oksana Akin’shina, Andrey Smolyakov, Andrey Panin, Maksim Leonidov, Ivan Urgant
Production company: Direktsiya Kino
Box office take: $27.5 million