Despite the fact that the events described in Mikhail Bulgakov's story "Heart of a Dog" take place in Moscow, the film of the same name was filmed in Leningrad. It was there, in the Apraksin Dvor area, that several buildings were found, which, in the opinion of the film crew, could convey the flavor of Moscow in the post-revolutionary era.
A huge number of applicants were reviewed for each role. For example, V. Nosik or N. Karachentsov could play Sharikov. But, something stopped the director of the picture, Vladimir Bortko. And only when he accidentally saw a photo of a theatrical actor from Alma-Ata Vladimir Tolokonnikov, he realized that this is the one he had been looking for for so long. Interestingly, Tolokonnikov at that time was already 45 years old and had previously starred in only a few films in episodes.
It was not easy to find a dog that could play the role of Sharik. Indeed, according to the scenario, the dog must be a mongrel, but unquestioningly follow the instructions of the trainer. We looked at 20 candidates and settled on a mongrel named Karai. He was not only obedient, but also absolutely not afraid of the spotlights and the hum of the wind blower - the machine with the help of which the "blizzard" was driven. Filming took place in winter, and there was not much snow in Leningrad. The director was very pleased with the work of Karay - almost all episodes with his participation were filmed from the first take.
In the creative biography of Evgeny Aleksandrovich Evstigneev, there are more than 100 film roles. But, the role of Professor Preobrazhensky is one of the most memorable. Moreover, the famous actor did not get it right away. Leonid Bronevoy, Yuri Yakovlev, Mikhail Ulyanov were invited to audition. But, as the director recalled, it was in the performance of Evstigneev that the professor was soulful and convincing. And the dog Karai was imbued with such confidence in Evstigneev that he followed on his heels on the set.
The story "Heart of a Dog" was officially published in the USSR only in 1987 in the Znamya magazine, after which the magazine's circulation increased sharply. But, as Yevgeny Evstigneev admitted, he had not read "Heart of a Dog" before filming, therefore, about Professor Preobrazhensky, whose role he happened to play, he had the most vague idea.
The ditties performed by Sharikov were remembered by the audience and immediately became popular throughout the country. These ditties are not folk art: they, especially for the film, were written by the famous bard Julius Kim. He is also the author of the lyrics for the songs "The Harsh Years Are Going" and "No One Will Smash the Red Army."
"Abyrvalg" is one of the first words uttered by Sharikov after the operation. If you read it in the opposite direction, you get - "chief fish". So in the twenties was the name of the organization that supplied fish to Soviet stores. Probably the dog Sharik has seen such a sign more than once when he wandered down the street.
Many phrases that sound in the film "Heart of a Dog" are not in Bulgakov's story. Director Vladimir Bortko, together with his wife Natalia, worked on the script for the film, adding some of the other stories and feuilletons written by Bulgakov.
The film Heart of a Dog was released in November 1988. It is interesting that Western filmmakers shot a picture based on Bulgakov's story 12 years earlier - in 1976. A German-Italian group worked on the film adaptation. Moreover, in Italy the film was called "Heart of a Dog", and in Germany - "Why is Mr. Bobikov barking?" As you can see, abroad Sharikov was renamed Bobikov.