Ryevsk, Russia, 1870. Tensions abound in the Karamazov family. Fyodor is a wealthy libertine who holds his purse strings tightly. His four grown sons include Dmitri, the eldest, an elegant ... See full summary »
Ryevsk, Russia, 1870. Tensions abound in the Karamazov family. Fyodor is a wealthy libertine who holds his purse strings tightly. His four grown sons include Dmitri, the eldest, an elegant officer, always broke and at odds with his father, betrothed to Katya, herself lovely and rich. The other brothers include a sterile aesthete, a factotum who is a bastard, and a monk. Family tensions erupt when Dmitri falls in love with one of his father's mistresses, the coquette Grushenka. Two brothers see Dmitri's jealousy of their father as an opportunity to inherit sooner. Acts of violence lead to the story's conclusion: trials of honor, conscience, forgiveness, and redemption. Written by
The optimum method for bringing a major literary work to the screen is the mini series, (though the television adaptation of Dostoyevski's "Crime and Punishment" was not to my liking.) There's no possible way a novel of the length and complexity such as "Brothers Karamazov" can be done justice to by the cinema, even given 145 minutes.
This 1959 Hollywood version deserves full marks for summarizing and depicting the plot faithfully, but since so much of the essence of the book is missing one cannot help feeling the pointlessness of the entire exercise.
Director Richard Brooks manages to sustain the emotion intensity of the piece, keeping the proceedings on an intimate scale, (David Lean no doubt would have blown it up to epic proportions). The cast are largely satisfactory with Yul Brynner is at his charismatic best as Dmitri and Claire Bloom is spot on as Katya. Iridescent Maria Schell is far too genteel for the earthy Grushenka, a part Marilyn Monroe somewhat misguidedly felt she was born to play, according to Hollywood lore. Lee J. Cobb tends towards hamming it up and an almost unrecognizably young William Shatner is a pleasant surprise as the mystically inclined Alexi.
While there is some enjoyment to be gained from this movie, one can only wholeheartedly offer the recommendation read the book.
17 of 25 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?