25 December 2012 | hte-trasme
Not to be Myshed
Rather than try to condense Dostoevsky's long ample novel into one film, the makers of this Soviet adaptation wisely decided to do it in multiple parts, allowing them to explore the material at less of a rushed pace. Only the first part ended up being made, but it is enough of a treasure in itself that we can be grateful, and comes to an end at a natural point.
"Intense" is probably the one best word to describe this adaptation; the performances are all tuned to an appropriate level of passionate unreason and tortured emotionality for Dostoevskian characters, and the direction supports this, with plenty of tense, lingering close-ups. The production looks rich and claustrophobic, with the lush but small rooms seeming to amplify the charged nature of the scenes. Even the make-up people seem to have assisted in creating the uniform artistic effect, as all the characters seem appear sunken-eyed and almost maddened.
Yuriy Yakovlev is appropriately innocent and ineffectual and Myshkin, which in this tense atmosphere means his character tends to fall into the background perhaps more than one might expect. The show is really stolen by Yuriy Yakovlev as Nastasya Filipovna. She's looks gorgeous and gives a fantastic performance -- constantly laughing and toying with others. She has as much screen magnetism as anyone I've ever seen, and I was surprised and disappointed to learn that she appeared in relatively few films being mainly a stage actress. With her interpretation is makes perfect sense why so many of the men fall head over heels for this "shamed" woman, and her mercurial, teasing, troublemaking character makes perfect sense.