Sunday, 26 August 2012

Olga Tschechowa

Olga Konstantinovna Chekhova, née Knipper (1897 -1980) was a Russian-German actress. Born Olga Knipper, she was the daughter of Konstantin Knipper, a railway engineer and the niece and namesake of Olga Knipper (Anton Chekhov's wife), both Lutherans of ethnic German descent. She went to school in Tsarskoye Selo but, after watching Eleonora Duse, joined the Moscow Art Theatre's studio. There she met the great actor Mikhail Chekhov (Anton's nephew) in 1915 and married him the same year, taking his surname as her own. Their daughter, also named Olga, was born in 1916.

Two years after the 1917 October Revolution, Chekhova divorced her husband but kept his name. She managed to get a travel passport from the Soviet government, possibly in exchange for cooperation, which led to permission to leave Russia. She was accompanied by a Soviet agent on a train to Vienna, then she moved to Berlin in 1920. Her first cinema role was in Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau silent movie Schloß Vogelöd (1921). She played in Max Reinhardt's productions at UFA, the same studios where Fritz Lang directed Metropolis (1927). She made the successful transition from silent film to talkies. In the 1930s, she rose to become one of the brightest stars of the Third Reich and was admired by Adolf Hitler. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry refers to the Olga Tschechowa in his novel Ultramarine when Dana, Norman and Popplereuter enter a cinema in Tsjang Tsjang (Dairen); "'Hullo,' I said, 'that's next week. Look what we've got today, for Christ's sake. Olga Tschechowa in Love's Crucifixion. What do you make of that, Watson?' 'Olga Tschechowa in Love's Crucifixion,' spelt out Popplereuter..." (Pg. 96). However, the 3 seamen only appear to see a "short" before the projector breaks and they leave the cinema before the main feature. Later, a drunken Dana meets Olga Solugub, the White Russian prostitute, she shows him her card; " 'Olga Sologub.' Olga Sologub. No relation to Olga Tschechowa? No? Not Olga Sologub - Love's Crucifixion?". (Pg. 106). Later, Lowry refers to the film again when Dana recalls him and Janet walking around Egremont; "Later, however, avoiding Egremont Ferry as they ascend a street of houses built on an incline to Brighton Road, which runs parallel to the promenade, as they waver at the King's picture-house, with its peeling stucco, where they are showing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Love's Crucifixion, with Olga Tschechowa....." (Pg. 131).

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