‘Russian Bob Dylan’ inspires biopic

Monumental and Direktsya Kino co-produce

LONDON — The life of Soviet era singer-songwriter, actor and stage director Vladimir Vysotsky — known as the “Russian Bob Dylan” — is to be made into a film for the first time.

Vysotsky, who died of a heart attack aged 42 in 1980, was revered by a generation of Russians who lived through the stultifying period of Communist leader Leonid Brezhnev’s rule.

Largely ignored by the Soviet cultural elite, Vysotsky came to symbolize the hopes and dreams of ordinary Russians. To this day he remains hugely popular and a strong influence on Russian musicians and actors.

His wit and the political nature of his songs led many in the 1960s and 70s to compare him to Bob Dylan.

“Vysotsky: Thank God I’m Alive” will be produced by Monumental Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Russian production company, and Direktsya Kino, one of Russia’s top independent production companies, responsible for films that include fantasy thrillers “Night Watch” and “Day Watch,” and more recently historic epic “Admiral.”

Based on an incident in 1979 when Vysotsky suffered a heart attack and experienced a “clinical death” before recovering while on tour in the ancient Uzbek city of Bukhara, the film will reveal Vysotsky’s complexity as an artist and a man.

The screenplay is written by Vysotsky’s actor son Nikita who is also a co-producer on the film. The director is Pyotr Buslov, whose first film “Bumer” became a cult classic with Russian youth after its release in 2003.

Shooting starts in Moscow later this month with release scheduled for spring 2011.

The cast of the movie is due to be announced in Moscow July 28, the 30th anniversary of Vysotsky’s death.

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