Monday, July 28, 2008

The Idiot

L'idiot; Drama, France, 1946; D: Georges Lampin, S: Gérard Philipe, Edwige Feuillère, Lucien Coëdel, Jean Debucourt, Sylvie, Nathalie Nattier

After 5 years, the naive, idealistic 27-year old Prince Myshkin returns to his Russian homeland from a Swiss town, going to Saint Petersburg to visit his relatives. In the office of General Yepanchin, he meets Ganya who plans to marry Nastasya for her dowry. When Myshkin sees her picture, he senses she is a sad woman and wants to meet her. At a party, he proposes her out of pity, but she leaves for Rogozhin, who offered the most money for her. She lives with Rogozhin, but dislikes her unglamorous life. Hearing she became friends with Myshkin, Rogozhin tries to kill him with a knife, but changes his mind. Aglaya, the General's daughter, is fascinated by Myshkin, but when he chooses Nastasya over her from pity, Aglaya leaves offended. Nastasya dies and Myshkin figures life isn't so simple as he thought it would be.

The second movie adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's famous novel with the same title, Geroges Lampin's "The Idiot" is a competent, calm and good, if shortened attempt at trying to bring literary classics to the big screens. Even though it's very fluid and reasonably long with it's running time of 90 minutes, Lampin's version of "The Idiot" isn't as significant in the cinema as if it is Dostoyevsky's in literature. Probably the best role was delivered by Edwige Feuillere as the strong independent woman Nastasya, whose chemistry is at moments so brilliant that it overshadows everyone else in the story, while the main message of the story prevails, namely that the naive and religious Myshkin - who actually really looks like Christ - tries to help the world with his advice, even Nastasya whom he proposes out of pity since he senses a sad person behind that face, yet is unable to live in the real world whose cruel reality represent a big shift in his philosophy, thus he remains a broken person in the tragic end, "deserving" the title role. As a whole, it's a good film, calm and measured, yet it's simply too mild to intrigue in bigger merits.


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