Nato Vachnadze

Natalia "Nato" Vachnadze (Georgian: ნატო ვაჩნაძე), born Natalia Andronikashvili (Georgian: ნატო ანდრონიკაშვილი)[A], (14 June 1904 – 14 June 1953) was a Georgian film actress. She started her career in the silent film era, usually playing the screen character of an Ingénue, an innocent and passionate young woman. She continued to work as an actress during the sound era until her death in a plane crash in 1953. One of the first film stars of the Soviet Union she received numerous honors, including the title of People's Artist of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Stalin prize.

Nato Vachnadze
ნატო ვაჩნაძე
Nato Vachnadze 2018 stamp of Georgia.jpg
Vachnadze on a 2018 stamp of Georgia
Nato Andronikashvili

(1904-06-14)14 June 1904
Died14 June 1953(1953-06-14) (aged 49)
Years active1923–1952
Spouse(s)Merab Vachnadze
Nikoloz Shengelaia
Anatoli Kacharava


Nato Vachnadze was born in Warsaw, then in the Russian Empire as the daughter of a Georgian father George Andronikov from the Andronikashvili family and a Polish mother Ekaterina Slivitskaya. Her father, an officer in the Russian army, was killed in a skirmish with a band of Chechen outlaws (abrek) in 1912. She adopted her last name from her first marriage to Merab Vachnadze, with whom she had a son, Tengiz Vachnadze (born 1926), the future architect. Her second marriage was with the film director Nikoloz Shengelaia, with whom she had two sons, the film directors Giorgi Shengelaya and Eldar Shengelaya.[1] Her third marriage was with the Soviet navy captain Anatoli Kacharava (1910–1982). Nato Vachnadze's younger sister, Kira (1908–1960), also became an actress and married the writer Boris Pilnyak.

Although several versions of her discovery for the film exist, the most popular and likely is that the film director Shakro Berishvili noticed her photography in a photo studio in Tbilisi. He managed to find her in Kakheti and convinced to play in her first film, the 1923 adventure film Arsen the Bandit.[2] The role of Nunu in the 1923 film Patricide and the role of Esma in the 1924 film Three Lives made her famous not only in the Georgian Union Republic, but all over the Soviet Union. In these films her screen character was that of an Ingénue, an innocent and passionate young woman. The theater and film director Kote Marjanishvili gave Vachnadze two challenging roles in the experimental films The Gadfly and Amok adapted from novels by Ethel Voynich and Stefan Zweig. By now not only a national, but also an international star she played the gypsy woman Masha in the German-Soviet film The Living Corpse, adapted from the Leo Tolstoy play The Living Corpse.[1]

Vachnadze was – together with her male colleague Igor Ilyinsky – one of the first film stars of the young Soviet Union, and was sometimes called the Soviet Vera Kholodnaya, after the first film star of the Russian empire, Vera Kholodnaya.[3] Indicators for her stardom are the appearance of her name in film advertisements and the publication of two pulp biographies printed in nearly 100,000 copies. Her screen character was decidedly different from the screen characters of other actresses. Most Soviet actresses in the 1920s were relegated to playing either the role of a traditional or proletarian heroine. Vachnadze in contrast played glamorous women with private lives – presumably her exotic Georgian origin allowed her more freedoms on the screen than a Russian actress would have had. Unusual for Soviet cinema most of her films were steamy melodramas in which she acted with considerable passion and emotion. Yevgenia Ginzburg described her as a "dovelike heroine" and as "an eternal victim" in his memoirs.[3] The writer Viktor Shklovsky described her as "an artiste of the American type because her value lies in the purity of her ethnographic type".[4]

With the emergence of the sound film Vachnadze decided to have a time out. Following a recommendation by Grigori Kozintsev she went to Moscow where she worked for Esfir Shub as an assistant director.[5] She then returned to Georgia, restarting her career in some of the earliest Georgian sound films such as the 1934 film The Last Crusaders and Mikheil Chiaureli's The Last Masquerade. She also played in films of her second husband, Nikoloz Shengelaia, including the silent film Giuli and The Golden Valley. Her last film was the 1952 film Conquerors of the Peaks directed by Davit Rondeli.[1]

As the first star of Georgian and Soviet cinema she was both named a People's Artist of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic and was awarded a Stalin prize in 1941. She was named an Honorary Artist of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and received three orders of the Red Banner of Labor. In 1943 she also became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Vachnadze died in a plane crash in 1953.[6] Shortly before her death the poet and writer Boris Pasternak addressed her during a visit to his country house. He said about Nato Vachnadze "Your beauty evokes a desire [in us] to kneel down before you!".[7]

After her death she received several honors. A street in Tbilisi and a product tanker of the Georgian Shipping Company was named after her from 1985 to 1995.[8] The Georgian film award is named Nato in her honor.[9] In 1981 the Nato Vachnadze House Museum opened on the family estate in Gurjaani, Kakheti.[10]


Year English Title Georgian Title Russian Title Role Director
1923 Arsen the Bandit არსენა ყაჩაღი Разбойник Арсен Neno Vladimir Barsky
Patricide მამის მკვლელი У позорного столба Nunu Hamo Beknazarian
1924 Three Lives სამი სიცოცხლე Три жизни Esma Ivan Perestiani
1925 The Case of Tariel Mklavadze ტარიელ მკლავაძის მკვლელობის საქმე Герой нашего времени Despine Ivan Perestiani
Who is the Guilty? ვინ არის დამნაშავე? Наездник из Вайлд Вест Pati Alexandre Tsutsunava
Horrors of the Past 2 ათასის ფასად Vladimir Barsky
1926 The Gadfly კრაზანა Овод Jema Kote Marjanishvili
Natela ნათელა Натела Natela Hamo Beknazarian
1927 Amok ამოკი Амок, закон и долг Woman Kote Marjanishvili
Giuli გიული Гиули Guili Nikoloz Shengelaia
1928 The Living Corpse Живой труп Masha Fedor Otsep
1930 Suburban Quarters Кварталы предместья Dora Grigori Gritscher-Tcherikover
1931 Iron Brigade Железная бригада Masha Dmitri Vasilyev
1934 The Last Crusaders უკანასკნელი ჯვაროსნები Последние крестоносцы Tsitsya Siko Dolidze
The Last Masquerade უკანასკნელი მასკარადი Последний маскарад Tamari Mikheil Chiaureli
1937 The Golden Valley ნარინჯის ველი Золотистая долина Nani Nikoloz Shengelaia
Arsena არსენა Арсен Neno Mikheil Chiaureli
1939 Girl from Khidobani ქალიშვილი ხიდობნიდან Девушка из Хидобани Gviristine Diomide Antadze
1940 Motherland სამშობლო Родина Natela Diomide Antadze and Nikoloz Shengelaia
1941 Qadjana ქაჯანა Каджана Marta Konstantine Pipinashvili
1943 He will come back ის კიდევ დაბრუნდება Он еще вернется Manana Diomide Antadze and Nikoloz Shengelaia
1947 A Cradle for Akaki აკაკის აკვანი Колыбель поэта Mano Konstantine Pipinashvili
1948 Keto and Kote ქეთო და კოტე Кето и Котэ Dancing in the last scene Vakhtang Tabliashvili and Shalva Gedevanishvili
1952 Conquerors of the Peaks მწვერვალთა დამპყრობნი Покорители вершин Elisabed Lomidze Davit Rondeli


[A] In Russian sources also Natalya Georgievna Andronikasvhili (Russian: Наталья Георгиевна Андроникашвили).[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Rollberg, Peter (November 2008). Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema. Scarecrow Press. pp. 724–725. ISBN 978-0-8108-6072-8.
  2. ^ Gvaladze, G. (2005). "Who Discovered Nato Vachnadze?". Kavkasiis Macʻne = Kavkazskiĭ Vestnik = Caucasian Messenger. Tbilisi, Georgia: National Parliamentary Library of Georgia. 12. ISSN 1512-0619.
  3. ^ a b Youngblood, Denise J. (November 1993). "Images and Stars". Movies for the Masses: Popular Cinema and Soviet Society in the 1920s. Cambridge University Press. pp. 90–104. ISBN 978-0-521-46632-5.
  4. ^ Taylor, Richard; Ian Christie (January 1988). The Film factory: Russian and Soviet cinema in documents 1896–1939. Taylor & Francis. pp. 237–239. ISBN 978-0-7100-9628-9.
  5. ^ Gvaladze, G. (2006). "Nato Vachnadze's Cooperation With Esther Shubb". Kavkasiis Macʻne = Kavkazskiĭ Vestnik = Caucasian Messenger. Tbilisi, Georgia: National Parliamentary Library of Georgia. 15. ISSN 1512-0619.
  6. ^ "Vachnadze, Nato". Dictionary of the Georgian National Biography. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  7. ^ Ketevan, Gabounia; John D. Murphy (October 1995). Georgian newspaper reader. Dunwoody Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-881265-19-1.
  8. ^ Kunadt, Thomas (May 2006). Die Schiffe in Hamburg und auf der Elbe: Shipspotting (in German). Murmann Verlag. p. 19. ISBN 978-3-938017-58-6.
  9. ^ Burford, Tim (July 2007). Georgia: The Bradt Travel Guide. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-84162-190-6.
  10. ^ "Nato Vachnadze House Museum" (in Georgian). Georgian Museums Association. Retrieved 4 November 2009.[dead link]

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