Akaky Akakyevitch (Peter Anderson) is a small, insignificant man who endures ridicule from his co-workers and performs tedious work copying legal papers. When he uses his life savings to ...
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Based on Nikolai Gogol's story with the location changed from Russia to Italy and the time changed to the present (1952), the story is about a poor city-hall clerk (Renato Rascel) whose ... See full summary »
An animated adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's classic short story about an office worker (Cillian Murphy) who saves all his money to buy a new coat in time for Christmas, only to have fate take a ghostly hand.
Akaky Akakyevitch (Peter Anderson) is a small, insignificant man who endures ridicule from his co-workers and performs tedious work copying legal papers. When he uses his life savings to buy a custom made overcoat it changes his life, but also leads to tragedy. Written by
Morris Panych's movement piece, based on Nikolai Gogol's tragic 1835 short story of the same name, is reprised here for the CBC. It was originally an exercise for Studio 58, a premier Canadian theatre school. The Vancouver Playhouse commissioned a longer version for its mainstage, and a critical and popular success was born. Luckily for us, it transfers well -- kudos to the producers and film-makers for maintaining the stage production's stunning visuals for TV without losing its soul.
The Man, lithely played by Peter Anderson, is a desperately poor worker in an industrial design office. His anonymity is complete, both with his banal superiors and disaffected social peers. The only people who acknowledge him are his co-workers, who shun and mock him for his shoddy clothes. He saves his pennies until one day he buys a new coat, and he becomes an overnight sensation. What follows is like life itself: equal parts intoxicating, inspiring, humbling and crushing.
A very interested comparison kept hitting me during the showing -- there are many visual references to Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Gogol wrote it in 1835, so there's a possibility Lang was familiar with the work -- but it's more possible the fallout from the industrial revolution haunted both men similarly, even 100 years apart.
Despite seemingly disparate themes -- the Overcoat is about an individual's flirtation with popularity after saving pennies for a new jacket, while Metropolis tackles social dystopia on a grand scale -- the common themes and visuals are stunning.
Originally produced as a movement piece for the Vancouver Playhouse, the Overcoat's one-hour TV special luckily managed to capture the wonder of the critical acclaim on film. No doubt Panych had at least a subconscious nod to Metropolis' machine district in his choreography, and set designer Ken MacDonald certainly has to have Lang's opus in his video collection. A definite must-see for fans of Metropolis, movement afficionados, and those who just plain enjoy good film.
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