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“I am Nansen’s artist” Arshavir Chakatouny (1882-1957)
The paper is a biographical narrative about Archavir Chakatouny (1882-1957) – an Armenian, whose life ended as a Russian emigrant in France. His life is presented by tracing his artistic development that started in the Armenian drama team in Baku in 1905-1910 and continued in the Moscow Artistic theatre where he learnt from Stanislavski and became close with Vakhtangov. He was invited to Moscow by Akop Usunyan who was a representative of the Film Company “Khanzhonkov and Co”, and suggested him the role of Kazbich in the movie “Bela” based on Lermontov’s work. The success of the movie was tremendous and in 1913 he was personally invited by Khanzhonkov and offered a new role – of Shamil in the movie “The capture of Caucasus”. Other successful film roles followed in 1914. The First World War interrupted the film carrier of Chakatouny; he was sent to the Caucasus front taking part in the great war conflicts in Sardarabad (1918) which were of great importance for East Armenia. After the war Chakatouny had a totally different role: he participated in the administration of the new proclaimed independent Republic of Armenia. In the period 1918 – 1920 he was a commandant of the capital of the Armenian Republic Yerevan; also, he was in charge of the mobilization and the fight against deserters. When Armenia became a Soviet Republic, Chakatouny left his native land for ever. He came to Constantinople for a while (the Armenian Dramatic theater) and after that he was in Sofia and other Balkan towns (1922 - 1924). Finally, he came to Paris where he played in the theatre and he was one of the most famous actors in the last years of the silent films (1924 - 1934). He founded the French cinema make-up school. The paper is based on archive documents and publications: Chakatouny’s personal documents, correspondence, as well as on visual sources.