Director of 'Soviet James Bond' dies: official

29th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The director of a Soviet television serial about an undercover spy dubbed the Russian equivalent of James Bond and admired by millions including Vladimir Putin has died, cinema officials said Thursday.

Tatyana Lioznova, who made the television series "Seventeen Moments of Spring" that is still widely admired today, died aged 87, the deputy head of the Russian filmmakers union Klim Lavrentyev told the ITAR-TASS news agency.

The 1973 series for which she is best known follows the work of fictional Soviet World War II spy Maxim Isayev who works as an undercover agent in the Nazi hierarchy and passes information back to Moscow.

"I am deeply shaken by the death of our great director," Russian Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev told ITAR-TASS. "She was truly the pride and joy of our cinema."

"She was a remarkable woman who created unique films that have gone down in the history of Russian cinema."

Born in 1924, Lioznova's first full feature "Memory of the Heart" came out in 1958 but won nationwide fame for her 1967 hit "Three Poplars at Plyushchikha" about the love between a simple girl and a taxi driver.

She made several more films before the collapse of the Soviet Union, including the 1982 hit "Karnaval".

But her fame rests chiefly on "Seventeen Moments of Spring" and its hero, whose name is still known to almost all Russians today.

Isayev, who while undercover goes by the name of Shtirlitz, is reputedly a favourite character of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who himself worked in Community East Germany as an agent for the KGB.

Upon hearing the news, Putin called Lioznova's passing "a great loss for Russian culture, for all of us."

"This brilliant and extraordinary woman, truly creative, will remain always in our memories," he added in a condolence telegramme published on the Russian government website.

Shtirlitz's qualities of loyalty, sacrifice of personal pleasure and calmness in situations of stress were seen at the time as ideal attributes of a Soviet citizen.

His coolness in the most pressured situations also drew comparisons to the most famous fictional spy in the West -- British agent James Bond of the Ian Fleming novels and legendary films.

© 2011 AFP

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