Monday, October 20, 2008

Legendary Actress Laid to Rest

On October 15, Latvia bid farewell to legendary film and theatre actress, Vija Artmane. Fan and mourner alike gathered early morning in the capital's Nativity Cathedral for the funeral, presided over by Metropolitan Alexander Kudryashov. She was laid to rest at the Protection of the Mother of God cemetery. Andrejs Strokins captured the entire event on camera.

Born to a Baltic German father and a Polish mother, Alida Franzevna Artmane was raised in a village near Tukums on July 21, 1929. Fond of wild flowers, she spent her childhood playing the fields, learning to make flower arrangements and dolls. At 10, she became a shepherdess, tending a herd of cows for five years. She graduated from high school a year after the Second World War ended, and had dreams of becoming a lawyer, but thankfully, her passion for acting prevailed and she moved to Riga to study at the Daile Theatre Second Studio. Changing her name to Vija, she was critically acclaimed for her performance as Anna Karenina in the eponymous play by Leo Tolstoy; she also starred in Tolstoy's 'War and Peace', in Gogol's 'Dead Souls', and other classic Russian plays.

She achieved nation-wide fame for her role in the 1963 film, 'Rodnaya Krov', as a loving mother. Her subsequent film career was highlighted with such roles as Veda Kong in 'Tumannost Andromedy', as Catherine the Great in 'Yemelyan Pugachyov' and as Julia Lamber in 'Teatris'. Vija Artmane was honoured with the title, National Actress of Latvia and was named People's Artist of the USSR in 1969. The Culture Ministry of Latvia awarded her for her contribution to theatre and cinema in 1999. She converted to Holy Orthodoxy sometime in the early 2000s and her memoirs were published in 2003. She is survived by two children, a son and a daughter.

Блажени, яже избрал и приял еси, Господи. Память их в род и род.

Blessed are they whom Thou hast chosen and taken, O Lord. Their memory is from generation to generation.

A note to non-Orthodox readers: placed on the forehead of the deceased is a paper chaplet bearing the words of the Trisagion, representing the crown of victory at the end of the contest. The coffin is never closed, because we believe the body to be an honourable and even a holy thing. For us, the body is not something to be hidden away or hurriedly disposed of, and should be treated with reverence. One sometimes gets the impression that in closed-casket funerals, the deceased is the only person who is not present and does not matter.

Metropolitan Alexander Kudryashov presided over the funeral

"Сам, Господи, упокой душы усопших рабов Твоих Вия: в месте светле..."

Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of Vija, in a place of light...

Hundreds of Rigans turned out to say goodbye to Vija

A last kiss

Во блаженном успении вечный покой подаждь, Господи, усопшым рабом Твоим, имена, и сотвори им, вечную память.

Give rest eternal, O Lord, in blessed repose, to the soul of Thy departed servant, and make her memory eternal.


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Blogger The Traditional Frog said...

Memory Eternal!

I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one who noticed her passing.

Tue Oct 28, 08:49:00 am 2008  

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