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 ...
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Based on the novel by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevskiy "Bratya Karamazovi", it was his last novel which was supposed to be the first in a series but unfortunately was his last one. This ... 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
Novels and movies are separate disciplines and each has its own requirements. People who want to read Dostoevsky and people who want to know what one of his books is about also have separate needs. I am a Dostoevsky lover, and have read THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV in several translations (no, I don't know Russian). This film hits all the necessary high notes to cover the book's plot, and so the screenplay serves the film well. The brothers themselves (Yul Brynner, Richard Basehart, Albert Salmi and William Shatner) turn in variable performances. Basehart comes in first place, with Brynner smoldering not far behind. A young William Shatner shows promise, while Salmi's inexplicable whine is almost unbearable, which is a shame because Salmi was a good, though underused, actor. Stealing the show from the brothers in every scene he's in is the wonderful Lee J. Cobb. Fans of the book will be disappointed at the excisions, but they were necessary to pare the story down to a workable movie. And, though I love the book and think it may be the world's great novel, I prefer the ending of the movie! Dostoevsky's book is open-ended as he intended it to be an introduction to characters he intended to use in further book -- but he died before it was written. So the movie wraps everything up nicely. Ivan's end scene is much preferable (no spoilers, though! See the movie and read the book!). Although Alexei is the main character in the book, he's basically an observer. Dmitri (perfectly captured by Brynner) is the powerhouse of the book and should be the focus in a dramatic adaptation, as he is here. A worthy effort in making an unfilmable novel filmable. If you want to know what the book is about but a thick novel is daunting, this film tells you everything you need to know.
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