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The 1968 film shows Fedor Karamazov as a stingy old man, who's three sons are after his money. The Karamazov brothers, Dmitri, a gambler, Ivan, a thinker, and Aleksei, a monk, are living through their different problems. Ivan is trying to save the world by making a story of "The Great Inquisitor". Dmitri, who lost money in gambling, is begging his father to help him. But the father gives a lot of money to his mistress Grushenka. Written by
In a period where Russian film making was not distinguished, their classics adaptations were the peak achievements. Apparently the one film by Bolshoi dignitary Lavrov, who also plays Ivan, this Dostoievsky production makes a stagey first impression, not unlike co-director Pyryev's version of THE IDIOT, but this is a much better film.
Concepts like Lavrov's assertion, in the presence of the priests, that morality is a product of immortality or Dimitri's claim that Korkoshko has never forgiven him for proving more ethical than herself, when he refused to take advantage of her need for money, are set up in the best printed page tradition and then elaborated in a way that we are not used to seeing in film, even those drawing on their connection with serious literature. The film form does rise to demands like the gypsy singer party or the diabolical illusion but these are not the highlights. The work's strength is in putting on screen ideas and states of mind most makers would find too demanding.
Not blessed with subtlety and in fuzzy Sov Colour, visual trimmings are minimal - ducks splashing in a pond, singing monks, a windmill distant in the fog. The weight of the piece is carried by the distinctive cast performing the Dostoievski text full blast.
Respectable versions like the Fritz Kortner or Yul Bryner films, that try to compress the piece into normal feature length, are obliterated in any comparison.
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