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The Overcoat (1959)

Shinel (original title)
Soviet film of Nikolay Gogol's classic tale.

Director:

Aleksey Batalov

Writers:

Nikolay Gogol (story) (as Nikolai Gogol), Leonid Solovyov
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Cast

Credited cast:
Rolan Bykov ... Akaki Akakiyevich
Yuriy Tolubeev Yuriy Tolubeev ... Petrovich
Aleksandra Yozhkina ... Petrovich's Wife (as A. Yozhkina)
Elena Ponsova ... Landlady
Georgiy Teykh ... Important Person
Nina Urgant
Aleksandr Sokolov Aleksandr Sokolov
Rem Lebedev
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Aleksey Batalov
Georgiy Kolosov Georgiy Kolosov ... (as G. Kolosov)
Nikolay Kuzmin
Mikhail Ladygin
Pyotr Lobanov Pyotr Lobanov ... (as P. Lobanov)
Vladimir Maksimov Vladimir Maksimov
Gennadi Voropayev
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Storyline

Soviet film of Nikolay Gogol's classic tale.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

Soviet Union

Language:

Russian

Release Date:

2 February 1959 (Soviet Union) See more »

Also Known As:

The Overcoat See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lenfilm Studio See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Version of To palto (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A haunting tale.
6 October 2015 | by deanluxSee all my reviews

Aleksey Batalov's 1959 production of The Overcoat is an earnest adaption of Gogol's famed short story. Batalov closely depicts Gogol's critical portrayal of Russian society. The emphasis of humorous aspects of the narrative gives way to a somewhat genteel spin on Gogol's central character, Akaky Akakieyevich, but the tragedy of the story and the critique which it underscores remain resonant in the film as a whole. Some of Gogol's frankness and the authenticity of third person experience are lost in the humorous flourishes of the movie.

Even in the opening scene, where viewers find Akaky Akakieyevich in the cradle attended by his mother, who rocks him gently, an amusing spectacle cast in a charming light takes the place of Gogol's rather stark and unnerving scene. The mother is surrounded by friends who offer her names for her child. She gingerly dispenses with each suggestion in favor of the name of the father. Here bestowal is a redundancy, which in Gogol's darker treatment sets off a theme of austerity. His account of the room is dissimilar. Godmother and Godfather list names for the prone mother who protests bitterly, only to choose the above in deference to "fate." Akaky then cries and makes a "wry face" as if to foreshadow his gloomy existence.

Departing from Gogol's tone, the film adopts a rather organic understanding of Akaky's debacle. The repetition of familiar scenes depicting modern trifles in humorous light deaden the impact of pathos. Akakieyevich bumbles in his apartment plagued by a meddling and captious landlady. The theme of chill is evident in the commute scene but its prevalence does not match Gogol. The society of the office is a farce the extent of which ruptures Gogol's realistic scale. Akaky is a persecuted hero who speaks directly to his attackers: "why do you persecute me." His words find purchase in the consciences of his coworkers even amid social distraction. The scene takes on a fable- like quality which undermines its relevance.

Gogol directly apologizes early in his story for the indulgences of his narrative which bring peripheral characters into view. He notes, too, his decision to omit the name of the department under discussion, "to avoid all unpleasantness." This places his character in direct correspondence to a social atmosphere. The reader understands the author is subject to a dangerous set of liabilities. The story seems timeless even in this context of social oppression. Akakieyevich is tethered intractably to a condition which itself seems eternal. The film portrays a man, whose tale is floating in the nebula of history, a fiction of import unattached to place and time. The humor is a modern variety reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin. Episodes, such as Akaky's struggle to do laundry in his landlady's quarters, resonate with Gogol's themes but fetch laughs which drown the author's intentions in the absurd.


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