Russian Cinema – School of Theatre Production of The Idiot

We are now on week 2 of Ohio University School of Theatre’s production of Dostoyevsky’s (1821-1881) The Idiot at the Forum Theatre.  The show runs Wednesday Feb 22 – Sat Feb 25, tickets can be purchased at the box office at Memorial Auditorium, unless you are a student, and tickets will be FREE as part of Arts for Ohio.  Check out the article on the production from the Post.

According to Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism (part of our Literature Criticism Online database), Dostoyevsky wrote this novel between 1867-1868 during a time of extreme poverty for he and his wife and traveled from town to town in Russia writing and trying to keep his finances afloat.  During this time his epilepsy starts to take its toll; in The Idiot, the character of Myshkin has epilepsy which could be interpreted as Dostoyevsky’s way of coming to terms with his illness.  Dostoyevsky also had a gambling habit, which didn’t help his financial problems, but his hopes were that this novel would bring him some notoriety.  It was originally serialized in the Russian magazine, The Russian Messenger with unfavorable reviews, especially as it followed Crime and Punishment.

Dostoyevsky novels have been made into films available at Alden Library:

The Idiot, directed by Vladimir Bortko, originally a 10-part series based on the novel.  Upon Prince Myshkin’s return to St. Petersburg from an asylum in Switzerland, he becomes beguiled by the lovely young Aglaya, daughter of a wealthy father. But his deepest emotion is for the wanton, Nastasia. The choices he makes lead to great tragedy.

Kurosawa made a version of the film, Hakuchi, remastered by Criterion Collection. The Idiot, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s masterpiece about a wayward, pure soul’s reintegration into society, updated by Kurosawa to capture Japan’s postwar aimlessness, was a victim of studio interference and public indifference. Today, this “folly” looks ever more fascinating.

Visconti adapted a version of Dostoyevsky short story Belye nochi, Le notti bianche  = White nights.  A chance encounter on a canal bridge results in a series of twilight rendezvous between a lonely man and a sheltered woman haunted by a lover’s promise.

One of Dostoyevsky most famous novels, Crime and Punishment directed by Menahan Golan is also available on DVD.  Overwhelmed by financial and family pressures, a young man decides to commit murder. This updated version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s nineteenth-century novel is set in post-Communist Russia.  Quite an all star American cast:  Crispin Glover, Vanessa Redgrave, John Hurt, Margot Kidder, John Neville, Sophie Ward, Richard Lynch, Patricia Hayes, Matt Servitto, Avital Dicker.

Prestupleniye i nakazaniye  = Crime and punishment, directed by Lev Kulidzhanov is a 3 disc DVD originally produced in 1949.  A poor ex-law student, kills an old pawnbroker and her sister, perhaps for money, perhaps to prove a theory about being above the law. The police start investigating him. The ex-law student meets and falls in love with a prostitute. She urges him to confess, promising to follow him to Siberia.  Filmed on location in Russia.

Notes from the Underground, directed by Gary Alan Walkow tells the story of a  disturbingly alienated man who becomes obsessed with a troubled, sexually abused young woman.

For more information on films in Alden library, go to the the Finding Films Research guide.