Crime and Punishment (TV Movie 1998) Poster

(1998 TV Movie)

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A Huge Disappointment
Ephraim Gadsby5 October 1999
Just because something is a so-called classic doesn't make it worth watching. This movie did not remain true to the storyline. There was some fraudulent backstory, as an attempt to provoke sympathy for Raskolnikov up front, when in fact he should get none, until the end. One of the most moving scenes in the book, the reading of the raising of Lazarus, was reduced to a quick, almost jokey, bit of silliness shoved up against a commercial break. The acting was atrocious, as the actors had to manage unnecessary Russian accents. Perhaps the needs of commercial television simply make the adaptation of novels like _Crime and Punishment_ impossible. As far as the casting, Ben Kingsley is a superb choice. Patrick Dempsey was inspired casting (better than 1935's Peter Lorre); the way Raskolnikov is described in the book I had always pictured Michael Sarrazin, but Dempsey is cut of the same cloth, and we're supposed to be appalled that such a nice looking and bright fellow could commit Raskolnikov's crime -- and this was undercut by the synthetic sympathy they tried to give him. There was no spirit of Dostoevsky at work in this movie. It's almost as if their source was a Classics Illustrated version rather than the book. But, if it encouraged anyone who was hitherto reluctant to read the book, it served a good purpose.
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A wretched hack unrecognizable as Dostoyevsky
palomnik6 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The key parts of Dostoyevsky's novel are either missing, or are so badly twisted, that I found myself laughing hysterically throughout this movie. There were a couple of good casting choices, and some good sets, but otherwise, it is a complete wash. This movie completely misses the points of Dostoyevsky, but it isn't too clear on it's Russian setting either. The poor cast is made to deliver the English dialog with bad Russian accents. The movie opens with Raskolnikov trying to assassinate Tsar Nicholas II and Tsaritsa Alexandra as they are leaving a church! (only 60 years too soon and completely destroys the subsequent plot assumptions). Key scenes such as Sonia's Father's speech to Raskolnikov (in which is contained the main theme of the work) are gone. What is meant to be a scene in which Raskolnikov and Sonia experience profound repentance, grace and forgiveness during the reading of the gospel story of Lazarus, is twisted: Sonia reads one sentence of the Gospel (tossing aside the theme), and then it turns into a big kiss moment instead. Avoid this one like the plague!
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Well Done Classic
FlickJunkie-24 April 2000
This TV movie is an excellent adaptation of the classic novel by Dostoyevsky. This is the story of Rodya Raskalnikov (Patrick Dempsey), an intellectual who is suspended from University and is living in poverty in 19th century Russia. Raskalnikov believes that in order for great men like Napoleon to accomplish great things, they must be above the law.

With this as a psychological backdrop, he gets the news that his sister has been discharged from her governess position and she is considering marrying a rich man she doesn't love to keep the family from starving. He reasons that he, being a great man, must take action to prevent this travesty. So he decides he should kill his pawnbroker, a despicable woman who preys on the misfortune of others, and take her money to save his sister from prostituting herself in this terrible marriage. He reasons that the pawn broker deserves to die anyway, and that his sister's future is far more important. The remainder of the story is a study in the torment and guilt he feels, and from which he cannot escape intellectually.

The film remains true to the novel, which is one of the classics of Russian literature. It is well directed, filmed in Poland to give it an authentic eastern European look. Joseph Sargent does an excellent job of capturing the rank poverty of the time in contrast to the opulence of the privileged.

This is Patrick Dempsey's shining moment, by far the best I've ever seen him. He does a terrific job of capturing the overwrought Rodya's agony and emotional distraction. Although Dempsey was sometimes overly manic in his portrayal, this is one of the most complex characters in literature and it is impossible to imagine anyone getting him just the way Dostoyevsky wrote him. Dempsey has come a long way since the Woo Woo Kid (`In The Mood', 1987).

Ben Kingsley was also terrific as the wily police chief who suspects Rodya of the crime, but with no evidence, cleverly manipulates his psyche to make the guilt unbearable.

I rated this film a 9/10. It is no substitute for reading the novel, but in comparison to most of what is on the market, this is a gem. Most refined viewers will not regret renting this film.
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Dostoyevsky would have hated it!
mutefaktor29 March 2003
Some scenes are ridiculous - the timing is all wrong and the director deserves an axe-treatment for screwing this book up. The Disney version would probably be better. The original story has many layers but they tried to make it into a shakespeare play or sumthin, but worse.. Shame on you. Ben Kingsley is good though, and I liked the genuine feel to the surroundings, but that doesn´t help this empty shell of a movie. If you read the book u might get inspired to read it again. If u have not - leave this crap alone. I bet the reason Kingsley (the police) looks angry at times is because he´s starting to realize the movie will suck.
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Here's the Crime, and this is the Punishment
A crime causes much grief and guilt for the young idealist Rodya Raskonlnikov (Dempsey) who cannot come around to confess his offense.

Beginning with the positives, Crime and Punishment has a fairly powerful cast with the exception of Patrick Dempsey. Julie Delpy plays an excellent Sonia, and Ben Kingsley could not have done a better Porfiry. The cast were great for their parts, unfortunately the actual movie wasn't too great in terms of quality film-making.

Without knowing any prior history to the movie (or the book for that matter), one can easily see that this was made for TV. The cheesy "spacing out" effects only used in TV are an abundance in Crime and Punishment. It is most noticeable in Rodya's moments of despair and depression. The overall impression of this version of Crime and Punishment is much more different than what I saw in my mind while reading the book. The words in the novel are dark, gritty, and full of heart. The movie is very simple and it's almost always in broad daylight! If anything, all scenes should be shot in nighttime 99% of the time since darkness relatively symbolizes desperation and grim moments.

Patrick Dempsey, as much of a sweetheart as he is, is NOT Rodya Raskolnikov. Rodya is a rough man, not a pansy. This was a complete casting error that ruined his character's complexity entirely.

For what it's worth, Crime and Punishment makes for a decent straight-to-television movie. If one is looking for justice to the book, let your imagination run wild. After all, an imagination is a much more powerful tool than a cheesy television film. Too much was changed in the transition from the book to the little screen. That was the crime. Watching this as a faithful Dostoyevski fan was the punishment.
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Excellent book,excellent actors,not such an excellent movie.
wickedducky1 May 2004
Crime and Punishment is one of the greatest books ever written but is not the easiest book to put on screen.Dostoyevsky`s genius is in his capacity to go deep into his characters minds and thoroughly describe their emotions.Patrick does a great job in this movie and so does Sir Ben(but he`s always brilliant)but the movie doesn`t even come close to the excellence of the book.In Dostoyevsky`s books the plot is not that important,for him the characters are more important.He puts them in different situations just to see how they react,for him the world inside his characters is more interesting than the world outside of them so it`s very difficult(if not impossible) to You should see the movie but don`t judge the book by it. make a good movie based on one of his books.
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A good yet confused soul, saved from drowning in his own guilt: from Napoleon to Lazarus?
Vinny3715 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Crime & Punishment – Dostoyevsky – 1998 film (Dir. Joseph Sargent)

The film focus is on Rodya, a young atheist student who mixes social idealism (a theological given) with delusions of grandeur. He perceives that morality is an absolute, yet entertains the idea that it is purely social and that he himself is above the moral law "like Napoleon". At one stage he risks his life to save two unknown children; late he murders two known women (intentionally, evil Alena, & unintentionally, her good sister, Elizaveta) in his anger against injustice & desperation to get Alena's ill-gotten gold to save his sister (Dounia) from an economic marriage he fears.

To a large extent the story follows the aftermath of his murders. It never successfully comes to a point where he repents of murdering the old parasitical crone Alena, although her dying has haunted him. He slides into paranoia and away from his former idealism, though still acts as benefactor to the Marmeladov family. His self-belief (supermen don't get caught) has been shaken, and the police chief (Porfiry) investigating the sisters' murders perturbs him. (I felt it unclear whether Porfiry wishes Rodya an unalloyed "get it off your chest" wellness, or also has a greedy eye for stolen gold. Indeed I felt a number of loose ends were left. This encourages one to read the book!)

Spiritually drowning, "a monster", Rodya asks Sonia Marmeladova to help him resurface through a Lazarus' experience (cf. John ch.11). She, earlier forced into prostitution to feed her family, has had a Bible given by Elizaveta, and believes that God alone, or at least Faith alone, can save Rodya, whom she is deeply gratefully to, and probably would marry for love. She says that repentance leading to confession of his crime, inviting civil punishment, is the key to saving his soul. If he will dare this road, she will walk with him "to the ends of the earth" – they end up in a Siberian prison camp, he a prisoner, she a nurse.

In the camp a chaplain raises the cry, "Christ is risen". Russian Orthodoxy was a key element in Russian society, yet it is probably true to say that Rodya's salvation is merely of the soul (psyche), not quite of the spirit. Still a movement in the right direction. Human loves can reflect (the Sonia factor), and thus point to, transcendent love, though in themselves become demonic as the murders show (the Alena factor).

Issues such as class divides, the problem of pain within theism, and morality as transcendent vs mere convenience, are hinted at but not fully explored. The acting is good, though a message rather than story is the focus. There are interesting subplots & characters: Dounia's former co-employer (Arkady) is besotted by her simple beauty, and while prepared to betray his wife is not prepared to rape, ending his own life in his despair in failing to win her love which he imagined would give his life meaning – Dounia lovingly marries Dimitri (aka 'Reason'), her brother's best friend and a nephew to Porfiry.
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Noble intention
Armand12 January 2007
A quiet cinemaization of a masterpiece. Nothing special, strange or beautiful. An ordinary acting and good work. It is a vain ambition to desire translate the Dostoievski's world in a movie. Important is the respect for novel's spirit. And the film is a interesting example for this rule.

Ben Kingsley is correct in the skin of a proteic character. Patrik Dempsy is a special Raskolnikof, victim of desire to show every aspect of a silent crisis. But what instrument is perfect for the Russian soul examination? "Crime and punishment" is not a great TV movie. It is not a reject or a boring piece of weekend afternoon. Corect, without any ambition, it is fairy description of a impressive literary creation. But is it enough? Maybe for the public who ignore the book because the movie is, in fact, only a noble intention.
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A definite contender for the worst adaptation of a Dostoevsky novel ever
TheLittleSongbird22 July 2015
Two performances stop this adaptation from being worse than it turned out to be. Julie Delpy, despite being perhaps a touch too beautiful, is dignified and moving as Sonia, while giving the character a strong will too, the writing of her character and subplot works against her but Delpy gives it her all. Even better is Ben Kingsley, no matter the state of the material Kingsley always gave his best and he more than does so here, bringing a thoughtful intensity to Porfiry.

Delpy and Kingsley aside, this adaptation of Crime and Punishment doesn't work at all, as an adaptation or as a film as a standalone. Dostoevsky is not easy to adapt, in fact his work is quite difficult to do so, but that isn't an excuse for the story and characterisation being so lacking. The script is of a poor quality, with flat soap-opera-ish dialogue, delivery that was a mix of melodramatic and awkward and little attempt to keep to the tone or spirit of Dostoevsky's writing (only about 3 or 4 bits I properly recognised) or the style and themes that made his work distinctive. The characters no longer have their complexity, but not only are they written in a one-dimensional way but they are also grossly distorted; Raskolnikov is reduced from someone anguished by guilt to someone on the verge of a psychotic breakdown and secondary characters like Louzhin reduced to stereotypes. As a result, we never get to know these characters or why they do what they do, therefore the film fails to elicit any sympathy or even care for them.

Admittedly, the story was disadvantaged to begin with by a too short length and an apparent heavy-cutting, and it shows quite badly here, it feeling incredibly rushed and choppy. It's completely devoid of suspense and psychological tension (even in the scenes between Raskolnikov and Porfiry, something and components that were done brilliantly in the two 1935 film adaptations), characters have very little- almost aimless- chemistry between them and the romantic subplot not only doesn't engage due to sloppy writing and lacking chemistry between Delpy and Patrick Dempsey but it slows the film down. Condensing and omissions were always going to be inevitable (the two 1935 film adaptations did too but not as badly), but the spirit and substance that makes the story so good are totally absent here, basic scenes are still intact but with none of the impact they ought but other key scenes are either greatly condensed or excised, to the extent that it did not feel like Dostoevsky. And to add further insult to injury, the adaptation even adds parts that have absolutely nothing to do with the story, including an opening sequence that was irrelevant, anachronistic and immediately distorted Raskolnikov's character.

Patrick Dempsey tries his best as Raskolnikov, but his performance is filled to the brim with erratic, painfully overwrought melodrama that it's almost uncomfortable to watch him, failing to properly bring out the character's conflicts. Richard Bremmer is just okay, but would have been better if the character was better and fully realised. Hungarian actors aside, the accents are laid on too thickly and didn't seem all that necessary. Crime and Punishment's flatly directed and the music has some pleasant parts but is generally forgettable generic TV-quality and not always very subtly used, not adding as much to the atmosphere as it could have done. Production values-wise, the costumes and sets are decent, though don't ever really convince as 19th century Russia, but the photography is too glossy and too modern, the film was made for TV and especially in the photography it looks it.

Overall, very bad and hugely disappointing, a definite contender for the worst adaptation of a Dostoevsky novel ever. 2/10 Bethany Cox
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A fine film version of one of the greatest books ever written
Amy Adler10 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Rodya (Patrick Dempsey) is an impoverished student in St. Petersburg, Russia. Although brilliant, he must suspend his schooling for lack of funds. His sister, Dounia, is a governess for a rich family in the country. Unfortunately, she is lovely and the husband and father of the situation takes a shine to her. Things get complicated when Rodya's mother arranges for Dounia to marry of a man of some means but no other good qualities, simply for sake of giving money to Rodya for his schooling. Desperate, Rodya remembers the old pawn broker in town, a disgusting woman with a large amount of funds. How can he even think of murdering and robbing her to save his sister from unhappy circumstances? This movie is a fine attempt at filming a classic story and making it accessible to the average person. The Russian names are always complicated and the circumstances of the society at the time a bit complex, too. Nevertheless, this presents the story with clarity, making the viewer more aware of what drives Rodya to commit a crime, by understanding the complete situation. The scenes of delusional guilt that plague Rodya are very fine, indeed. All of the principal players, Dempsey, Kingsley, and the lovely Delphy, are quite wonderful. If you've always wanted to know the story but your attempts at reading the novel have failed, this film is a good place to start. Who knows? After seeing this movie, perhaps you will try read the book again. But, in any case, you will have gained a rich experience and food for thought by sitting down to watch this superb story on video.
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A TV Movie Worth Watching for a Change
mieshka30 April 1999
I have to admit that for a TV movie, I wasn't expecting much out of Crime and Punishment. However, as an avid reader of Dostoevsky, I felt I had to give it a chance. I read Crime and Punishment three years ago, and I loved it and welcomed the chance to see it acted out. I was pleasantly surprised! This was a wonderful adaptation of the novel. It stayed true to the wonderful storyline most of the time, and it was superbly acted. I don't know much about Russia in the nineteenth century, but this film really captured the time and really made me feel like I was there. It is certainly a great work, and anyone who loves Dostoevsky should see it.
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not bad but...
Kirpianuscus28 March 2017
it is only another outside adaptation of the novel. and the only sin remains the conviction than to save the appearances represents to make a good film. because the sin of this film is the same who defines many other exercise on the Dostoievsky text - good actors, beautiful performances and poor script. or, not exactly the script is the problem but the ambition to give a "reasonable" version of a book who has its precise rules, perspectives and development of the way of characters. and this is all.Patrick Dempsey as a good Raskolnikov, a brilliant Ben Kingsley and Julie Delpy as the ideal Sonia. but the essence of the universe of novel remains a sort of version "ad usum Delphini".
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Crime: Mean Old Pawn Broker. Sin: Her Innocent Sister.
Robert J. Maxwell30 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This isn't bad. As far as that goes, it must be hard to botch the story, but this version does have its weaknesses. On the DVD I watched, the sound was poor, for one thing. It's not a minor flaw either, because the characters speak with Russian accents, and some of them are a little difficult to decipher to begin with. The recording lends the film a kind of cheesy feel.

And some illuminating instances from the novel, if I remember it accurately after many years, are dropped. A villain slipping a coin into a young woman's dress to make her seem a thief, for instance. I understand that all adaptations have to shorten the original material but, as usual, what gets dropped is the subtle stuff that makes the characters more than categorical types. And not just that. When the drunken old neighbor dies in an accident, the poverty is such that his wife doesn't have enough money to bury him, so she packs up the children, dresses them in rags, and they dance on the street as clowns, hoping for a few coins. They don't make it, and the body in the bed begins to decompose. Man, that's tragedy not just hard times.

Patrick Dempsey is all hairy and sweaty as Roskolnikov. He's projects the guilt alright but lacks the bravado that ought to mask it. Julia Delpy as Sonia the whore does a fine job. As Dunya, the sister, Lili Horvath is pretty but a cipher. Her expression never seems to change, her features frozen.

Outstanding is Ben Kingsley as Porfiri, the police inspector who intuits Raskolnikov's guilt and plays on it with good-natured hospitality and reassurances that he, Raskolnikov, is not a suspect. Until finally Porfiri reveals that he knows who did it. In the translation I read, I remember that exchange. Porfiri and Raskolnikov have been discussing the murder for some time and, piqued, Raskolnikov asks who committed the crime. Porfiri looks up in surprise and says with some wonderment, "Why, YOU did, Raskolnikov." In this movie, the conversation is different and Kingsley gets to toss the accusation off with a reference to "the murderer, who is, of course, you." There is a close up of Kingsley's face when he makes this statement but there have been so many close ups previously that some of the power is drained from the shot. Still, that game of cat and mouse between the murderer and the inspector is a delight, especially among so much gloom.

You know who handled the role of Porfiri as well as anyone else -- in any version of this chestnut? Okay. Hold on, because I'm about to reveal my perversions. Well, one of them anyway. Frank Silvera, in "Crime and Punishment, USA," that's who. And, believe it or not, George Hamilton was a perfectly reasonable Raskolnikov too. I'd better stop sharing my perversions now or before I know it I'll be into my collection of fancy goldfish bowls.

Everybody tries hard here. Earnestness is written all over this production. And it isn't terrible. I just wish it had been better, because it's almost like looking into a time capsule -- all the way back to when criminals still had guilt.
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milosvbl19 February 2006
After many stupid movies I had to watch this one was refreshment. Although there are disproportions between movie and novel in many ways, I think it is very worth watching and recommend it to everyone. After this movie you should read a book, and not just Crime and punishment but others Dostoyevsky books too. I was so stupid I was ignorant and haven't read Dostoyevsky's books so far but will try to change this in future. Also, I must notice that at the end movie is too pathetic, it seems that director haven't fully understood its final words but anyways it is one of better movies I watched in last years and worth remembering. Thanks and regards.
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Worst movie I have ever seen
emb-619 August 2000
Between the bad accents, the horrible directing, and the predominantly bad acting, it couldn't be any worse. Even poor Richard Bremmer didn't look good trying to act while using that rotten Russian accent. Skip this one.
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A Slow movie ...but it was a good movie
TexasRedge21 May 2002
I've never read the classic novel, so this movie may not correspond with the book, whether it does or not - because I've never read the book, I wouldn't know. How ever this film did have some very supperb acting in it, and it also had a great story. the music score is lacking. and the costumes were decent. I liked this movie,although I could have been better. the problem is that it moves at a slow pace and (you)the viewer are left waiting for something big to happen, and this sense of suspense builds throughout the entire film. only to have a small conclusion. It is a slow movie ....but it is a good movie. but its not one that I'd want to see again and again. so I gave it 5 out of 10 stars.
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A pleasant surprise
gaston-530 September 1999
Usually movies for TV don't have the outstanding quality this one displays.Seeing movies like Crime and Punishment is a pleasure.It's well acted and well directed.I wish TV viewers had the opportunity to see more quality films like this.
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