Vasily Ilyin, a 67-year-old Russian farmer, had never left his home village of Ryshkovo. In a flash of an eye, Ilyin found himself in Moscow, on the cover of Esquire magazine and checking out the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Voices of New York reported on Ilyin’s adventure and his spellbinding, globetrotting brush with fame, which brought him to Brighton Beach.
The incredibly charming Ilyin, full of wit and wisdom, never planned on leaving his village that is located in the Kursk region of Russia. Voices of New York described how the man found himself on the cover a magazine and flying across the globe:
The retiree became famous unexpectedly. His neighbor was addressed by an acquaintance from Moscow, whose daughter works as a journalist. Russian Esquire needed a farmer from the heartland. And they found him in the Kursk region, located roughly 350 miles south of Moscow.
Vasily Ilyin was invited to Moscow, and then to New York for a three-day stay.
He came to New York for a photo shoot for the Esquire cover. In addition, the publication shot a 20-minute film about his journey from the Russian hinterland to the biggest city in the U.S…
After a successful photo shoot, Ilyin visited famous tourist attractions and for the first time in his life saw the ocean. Ilyin went to Brighton Beach, saw the Statue of Liberty, hanging bridges, rides, and ships, but admitted that his heart still belongs to his native Ryshkovo.
The 20-minute film featured above, captures the magic of Ilyin with beautiful photography and a gripping narrative driven by the wonderful nuggets of wisdom provided by the man. It is remarkable to see him gaze at the construction of the new World Trade Center, stand under the George Washington sculpture at Federal Hall downtown and watch the sunset over Brighton Beach. Voices of New York captured the best of his insights in a wonderful list:
- “I don’t close the doors at night. I have nothing to steal.”
- “I am a farmer, a natural one. I had never even worn a tie in my life.”
- “I do not like the city eggs. Its yolk is as white as the Muscovite women, who travel to the south on a train.”
- “The brain comes only after you turn 30, not before. But if it did not come by 30, then there is no reason to wait for it.”
- “In the village there are so few people left that if you were running around naked, no one would even notice.”
- “Saving up money is just for the greedy.”
- “Serfdom farmers lived better than we do now.”
- “If a woman is drunk, she can entice anyone.”
- “Russian people are reserved, but merry.”
My favorite quote from Ilyin, not listed above, comes from the middle of the film.
“If I hadn’t agreed to this trip, I would have stayed a stump for the rest of my life in in my village. And now I am more or less enlightened,” Ilyin said as he passed the Statue of Liberty.
Great stuff, and thanks to Stereo Tactic for providing the fantastic video.