Soviet actor who starred in award-winning films during a burst of freedom for the arts before repression set in again during the mid-60s
The years following the second world war represented a low point in Soviet cinema, both in quality and quantity. It was only after Stalin’s death in 1953 and Khrushchev’s speech in 1956 attacking aspects of Stalinism, that the Soviet film industry began to pick up.
The result of this thaw was a number of films that merited international success, notably Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes Are Flying (1957), which was named best film at Cannes, and Josef Heifits’ The Lady With the Dog (1960, which got the special jury prize at Cannes. Both starred Alexei Batalov, who has died aged 88.