Vladimir Chebotarev before shooting only two full-length pictures, however, he had a wealth of experience in popular science cinema, where the shooting was often under water. No one else in the domestic cinema has ever had to shoot actors at depth - only documentaries.
First of all, the director turned to professional divers for advice, who confirmed that this was possible, although very difficult. Few people believed in the bold idea of Vladimir Chebotarev and cameraman Eduard Rozovsky, except for screenwriter Akiba Golburth, who recommended to contact his friend, well-known screenwriter Alexei Kapler. From its supply, the future masterpiece was given a green light. A technically difficult project hung in the balance because of a disastrously small budget. The Minister of Culture, who directly oversaw the film, was convinced that the filming of the “children's” film did not require additional funding, however, the director himself assured everyone that people of all ages would watch the future picture. As it turned out, he was right.
Laspi Bay in the Crimea was chosen as a place for underwater filming - there was the cleanest water on the entire coast. It was necessary to imitate the transparent exotic sea with rich underwater fauna. The old fishing ship, bought in Finland, was also driven to the role of “Medusa”. It is curious that before the release of the picture in the light - this place almost no one knew. And after the filming, not far from the filming site in Foros, a government residence was built, in which future General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev often spent time. Even before the start of filming on the water, the entire film crew, and first of all, the main actors Vladimir Korenev and Anastasia Vertinskaya, went to training at the PF Lesgaft Institute of Physical Culture in Leningrad. And if there were no special problems with Korenev in terms of instructions, it was much more difficult with Vertinskaya. At that time, she almost did not know how to swim. It is worth paying tribute to the fragile Anastasia Vertinskaya, who most of the underwater filming, including the stage with a smooth fall to the bottom without equipment, played itself with a rare connection of stuntmen.
Despite the technical difficulties that promised underwater shooting, in the end, no one was seriously injured. All thanks to the ingenuity of the operator Edward Rozovsky, who invented several devices for underwater shooting, for example, a transparent vacuum box for a camera under water. Rozovsky also invented a trapezoidal mesh construction with a transparent wall, which was fixed in front of the camera lens.
In the Black Sea there is no such diversity of underwater inhabitants, as, for example, in the Red Sea, and a few swimming fish “livened up” the frame very much, giving the impression of densely populated sea depths. In order to remove the underwater episodes, the actors sank along with the instructors-scuba divers to the location of the shooting, breathed in, gave the instructor their scuba gear, and proceeded to the shooting. Filmed no more than a minute, then a break until the next episode. Thus made all the underwater shooting.
The shooting of the “foreign” city (according to the scenario is Buenos Aires) took place in Baku, then the shooting of the “Istanbul” streets for the “Diamond Hand” took place there. The director had to try very hard to show “life abroad” - two dozen foreign cars were rented for filming, and costume designers had to show a lot of ingenuity so that the film’s characters looked like foreigners - cork hats, sombreros, neckerchiefs, stylish shoes, white suits - everything This emphasized, according to the author, Latin American exoticism. When creating dresses for the heroine of Vertinskaya, costumers drew inspiration from the outfits of Christian Dior, who in 1959 showed his famous new look collection in Moscow. Ihtiandru made a suit of thick elastic fabric, and fish scales cut out of old film and covered with pearlescent paint. Total made four such suits.
In choosing an actor for the role of Ichthyander Vladimir Chebotaryov was guided by the only criterion - the eyes: they should have been associated with the sea and sky. A young man with beautiful eyes was found in GITIS - he turned out to be a 20-year-old novice actor Vladimir Korenev. The shooting assistant invited him to the tests, after which he was immediately approved for the main role.
Embody the image of Guttiere took sixteen Anastasia Vertinskaya, who was obliged to pass the final exams in one of the Baku schools. The role of the charming villain Pedro Zurity chose Mikhail Kozakov. He himself didn’t like to recall this role, as he was ridiculed because of the specific type of “short pants” and cork hat.
Before the premiere in the “Russia” cinema, people stood in long lines, and the film itself gathered 67 million viewers over the year. Despite the huge success at the box office, critics did not immediately accept the Amphibian Man, calling him in their devastating articles vulgar, not conforming to the canons of the original. The editorial board of Lenfilm said: “We are sure that the audience will forget this film much earlier than 2000”. However, their predictions did not come true - the picture is still loved and remembered. The film really turned out to be relaxed, light, beautiful, sometimes touching or even naive, but so necessary for that time, like a breath of fresh air among the heavy post-war pictures.
Quotes from the movie:
1. I wanted to give you life, and you didn’t even take such a small amount, which means you don’t believe in my love.
2. -I love you ...
- So it means love at first sight?
- Is there another?
3. The door is closed for you, and the window is open for others!