Bratya Karamazovy (2009)

TV Mini-Series  -   -  Drama
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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 »

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Series cast summary:
Nikolay Stotskiy ...
 Vrach Varvinskiy (2009) (unknown episodes)


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 versions is supposed to be closer to the book than any other released earlier. Written by Pavel

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Release Date:

27 May 2009 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

Bracia Karamazow  »

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(8 parts)


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Version of Bratya Karamazovy (1969) See more »

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Even this is permitted?
10 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Brothers Karamazov is a complicated, discursive, and philosophical novel -- and those elements are indispensable to its greatness. They also, I would think, work against it when it comes to the necessarily somewhat reductionist form of the filmed adaptation. This ambitious effort has the strong advantage going in of taking place over ten episodes, allowing much more of the substance of the book to be retained.

In that an in its tone it seems to be trying to draw from the same string as another serialized Russian-television Dostoevsky adaptation from a few years before -- Vladimir Bortko's fantastic 2003 series of The Idiot. But this has almost none of The Idiot's success unfortunately.

Though we have twelve episodes to work with, the running time is actually much lower, as each is only just over forty minutes long, and I think about six of those are taken up with a long and eventually very irritating opening sequence that shows the same underscored scene each time.

There is an effort to represent many scenes from the novel, but perhaps this effort taken in almost too many. Most of them are not done any measure of justice, and together they fail to make a coherent, watchable, contextual whole. In fact, if I had not read the novel before I had watched this adaption, I don't think I would actually have known what was going on the whole time. That's a big problem, and I don't know whether it comes from too much of an assumption of familiarity with the source or an attempt to fit so many specifics that the big picture it lost.

In the scenes that are selected, ether are problems caused by the twin facts that what is given attention is rather random and does not seem to correlate with what is most important or necessary to the narrative, and the fact that the makers included many small, unnecessary changes to the substance of the source, of which none were effective. Normally, I don't mind an adaptation taking liberties with the source, but this one took all ineffective ones after seeming really to invite comparison with the novel.

From the start, we have a narrator who pops in an out of the first episode before disappearing, indicating an inability to get the back- story across without narration, or indecisiveness about what to do about the present-but-apparently-somewhat-disinterested narrator of the novel. We see the Karamazov brothers playing together is as children, rather that having been raised apart -- and this just sets the tone.

Notably, the famous "Grand Inquisitor" scene is reduced to some ineffective voice-over by Ivan over one or two shots of the Inquisitor and Christ, only for a pointless and largely dialogue-free sequence of Dmitri being crucified to be added later after he is interrogated for the murder of Fyodor. This smacks of the filmmakers opining about the work rather than adapting it.

The trial of Dmitri has virtually all of the arguments and characterization removed from it, but it still lasts quite long -- so it's in keeping with the atmosphere of the adaptation of a philosophical novel that has had most of the philosophy removed. And we end with an inappropriate image of the brothers together as children, when Dostoevsky make a point of indicating that they grew up apart.

The acting is largely adequate enough, for some of these roles a very high standard is required, which the cast just does not quite meet. Only two actors distinguish themselves -- Sergey Koltakov and Fyodor Karamazov and Masha Shalaeva as Liza.

All that can be said in the end is, "well, they tried." I admire the ambition of doing this adaptation, but it can't be called a success.

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