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 »
In the Nineteenth Century, at the seaside resort of Yalta, the upper class Dimitri Gurov from Moscow meets Anna Sergeyovna walking with her little dog. Both have unhappy marriages: Dimitri ... See full summary »
Akikiy Akakievitch, a clerk scorned by his colleagues, tries to find an overcoat. He succeeds, but after a night out with his fellow office workers, he is attacked and his new coat is ... See full summary »
Set during the occupation of Poland during World War II. Some German soldiers, slaughter a woman, her son and daughter-in-law. The husband and his father escape by being in the forest. The ... See full summary »
Khlestakov is a young flamboyant crook, who is broke. He finds himself in a small Russian town, where local authorities are waiting for an undercover inspector from the capital St. ... See full summary »
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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