Crimes and Misdemeanors. Dir. Woody Allen. MGM, 2005.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is a dark comedy-drama directed by Woody Allen that centres upon the existential moral dilemma of crime and its psychological consequences. The Dostoevskian theme is developed in the film by Judah, a respected family man who, after having an affair with flight attendant Dolores and being threatened with exposure, hires a hitman to kill her. After the deed is done, he visits her apartment to collect personal items and is consumed by guilt upon seeing the bloodied corpse. Judah then turns to the religious teachings he had once rejected, believing that God is watching and passing judgement. In contrast to Crime and Punishment, where Sonia’s spiritual guidance helps Raskolnikov admit to his crime before both God and man, Judah is content to continue his life in the knowledge that God looks on. His protected world of wealth and privilege is enough to shelter his conscience from the damning consequences of spiritual judgment.
Woody Allen (1935- ) is an American actor, comedian, filmmaker, playwright and musician, whose career spans more than six decades. The director of more than forty films, he is one of the industry’s most decorated patrons, having won four Academy Awards and nine BAFTA awards. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment has long been cited by critics as a prominent subtext in many of Allen’s films, including Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream, and Irrational Man.
Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (Norte, the End of History). Dir. Lav Diaz. Cinema Guild, 2013.
Directed by Lav Diaz, Norte, the End of History is a Filipino drama from 2013 that focuses on the themes of crime, class, and family. The film draws heavily upon Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and echoes of the novel can be found throughout the plot. Diaz’s script opens in the northern Philippine province of Luzon, in which the embittered law school drop-out Fabian commits a brutal double murder of a money-lender and her daughter. Then, in a departure from Dostoevsky’s vision, Fabian flees town and it is the impoverished family man Joaquin who is jailed for life for a crime he did not commit. The remainder of the film focuses on the following four years, in which Joaquin takes on a saintly role of sacrificial scapegoat in prison, while his wife Eliza and two children struggle for survival wandering the countryside. Fabian, meanwhile, is consumed by guilt to the point of madness, falling constantly into an ever-deeper chasm of darkness and isolation.
Diaz’s film was met with great critical acclaim after screening at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, the 2013 New York Film Festival, and the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The writer and director of Norte, Lav Diaz (1958- ) is an independent filmmaker recognized as a key member of the slow cinema movement, of which this work, which runs for 4 hours 10 minutes, is a notable example.
Pickpocket. Dir. Robert Bresson. Janus Films: Criterion Collection. 2005.
Directed by Robert Bresson, Pickpocket is a French film released in 1959 that draws heavily on Crime and Punishment. The protagonist, Michel, is a petty thief who after being arrested and released starts discussing the rights and wrongs of crime with the police inspector. The only way he can find meaning for himself in society is by confronting it, earning thrills through pickpocketing and evading prosecution. After his eventual arrest and imprisonment, his redemption becomes possible through a visit to his cell by the saintly Jeanne. The humiliation of prison inspires him to a desperate act of faith, and his life is transformed through her love.
Robert Bresson (1901-1999) was a French film director known for his spiritual and ascetic style, which embraced a minimalist ethos that included sparse use of scoring, ellipses, and non-professional actors. Born in Bromont-Lamothe, central France, Bresson began his career as an artist and photographer, and his later film career incorporated three formative influences from these early experiences: Catholicism, art, and his experience as a prisoner of war. Pickpocket was nominated for the 10th Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear Award. Bresson was the International Award Winner at the 1951 Venice Film Festival for his film Diary of a Country Priest, and the Interfilm Award Winner at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival for his film The Devil Probably.
Sin Compasión. Dir. Francisco J. Lombardi. Inca Films. 1994.
Directed by Francisco José Lombardi, Without Compassion is a Peruvian film based on Crime and Punishment that was released in 1994. The protagonist, Ramon, is a young law student struggling physically and mentally from abject poverty and resentment towards society. Ramon is portrayed as an intelligent and sensitive man whose unease and repressed desire lead him to commit violence in the name of a confused idea of justice. Following the murder, the protagonist faces the stubborn attention of detective Major Portillo, and encounters a force of purifying redemption through the lost yet saintly figure of Sonia. Ramon, in Lombardi’s vision, is both cruel and generous, noble and ambivalent, and comes to find solace through his suffering.
Without Compassion was first screened in the Un Certain Regard section in the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, and selected as the Peruvian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 67th Academy Awards. Following the completion of Without Compassion in 1994, Lombardi went on to direct Under the Skin (1996), another film based on Crime and Punishment that won the Best Director prize at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. Francisco Lombardi, born in Tacna, Peru in 1946, is a director, producer and screen writer, who has directed seventeen films since 1977 and won the Silver Shell for Best Director in 1985 for his film The City and the Dogs.
Edison Denisov (1929-1996). Prestupleie i nakazanie: muzyka k dramaticheskomu spektakliu. Moscow: Kompozitor, 2008.
In 1977, the celebrated Soviet composer Edison V. Denisov composed the incidental music for one of his favourite theatre productions, Yuri P. Lyubimov’s adaption of Crime and Punishment staged at the Taganka Theatre. The score is comprised of seven movements, and set for a mixed choir, celesta, and percussion instruments. The four movements sung by the choir are all set to sacred texts, with the musical culmination found in a setting of the Eastern Orthodox hymn, Свете тихий (Oh Gladsome Light) sung by female voices and glockenspiel. Denisov envisaged this movement as focused solely on the character of Sonia, and interestingly his score of Crime and Punishment is one of only two works in which he uses Eastern Orthodox texts. This tonal passage is set in a major key and provides an uplifting and overtly sacred quality to the actions and qualities of Raskolnikov’s confessor.
Edison Denisov, born in Tomsk, Siberia, was an experimental Russian composer of the post-Shostakovich generation and a leading figure in the musical avant-garde. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory from 1951-1956 and was appointed to the faculty of the Conservatory in 1959. In 1979, he was blacklisted as one of Khrennikov’s Seven at the Sixth Congress of the Union of Soviet Composers and charged with unapproved participation in festivals of Soviet music in the West, prompting a move to France for the latter years of his life. Among his most famous works are his cycle for soprano and chamber ensemble Le soleil des Incas, performed in Paris and lauded by Igor Stravinsky, and the opera L’écume des jours, based on the novel of the same name by the French writer Boris Vian.
Chris Hannan (1958-). Crime and Punishment. London: Nick Hern Books, 2013.
This adaptation by eminent Scottish playwright Chris Hannan premiered in 2013 at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, before going on tour to the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatre, and the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, Edinburgh. Hannon’s adaption is split into two acts of 27 scenes in total, and reflects his singular interpretation of Crime and Punishment as “crime thriller meets Karl Marx and Jesus Christ.” The play is steeped in religious imagery from the opening scene, with the cast entering singing Russian Orthodox psalms, dressed as their characters: a prostitute, a drunk, an impoverished student, and a pawnbroker. The play faithfully follows each of the novel’s six parts, though presents a sorrowful interpretation of the epilogue: Raskolnikov’s serene vision of redemption pre-Siberia is juxtaposed with Sonia’s retrospective lamentations; she notes that he sneers at the mention of Christ and shuns all attempts at contact by her.
Born in Clydebank, Scotland, Chris Hannan gained a double first in English literature at University College, Oxford, before embarking upon a career as a full-time writer. His plays have been staged by Shakespeare’s Globe, the Old Vic, the National Theatre of Scotland, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Over the course of his career he has been awarded the Time Out Award for The Evil Doers in 1990, the Scotland on Sunday Critic’s Award for Shining Lights in 1996, and the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize in 2009 for his debut novel "Missy."
Andrzej Wajda (1926-2016). Dostojewski--teatr sumienia: Biesy, Nastazja Filipowna, Zbrodnja i kara. Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy Pax, 1989.
First produced at the Stary Teatr in Kraków on October 5, 1984, Andrzej Wajda’s adaptation of Crime and Punishment presented a faithful interpretation of Dostoevsky’s novel in 13 scenes plus an epilogue. As these sketches show, it was originally staged as a claustrophobic series of glass doors and windows, a maze of apartments, offices, and corridors, with the audience separated from the stage by a court-like wooden barrier. It was received enthusiastically by critics and audiences alike, continuing its run at the 25th Kalisz Theatre Festival in 1985, the Warsaw Theatre Festival in 1986, and the 5th International Festival of Theatre in Madrid in 1985. The play subsequently toured Berlin, Belgrade, Parma and Palermo, Italy, and Tel Aviv, Israel. In 1987 it was adapted for television in cooperation with the German public-broadcasting company WDR.
Andrzej Wajda, born in Suwałki, Poland in 1926, is an internationally acclaimed film and theatre director. In his youth he joined the Polish resistance in 1942 and served in the Armia Krajowa until the close of World War II. After the war, Wajda studied to be a painter at Kraków’s Academy of Fine Art before entering the Łódź Film School. During a career spanning more than half a century, Wajda has had four of his films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and received the Palme d’Or in 1981 and an honorary Oscar in 2000. As well as adapting Crime and Punishment for the stage, Wajda has produced both theatrical and cinematic versions of Dostoevsky’s Demons and The Idiot.
Gaston Batty (1885-1952). Crime et chatiment: vingt tableaux adaptés et mis en scène d’après F. M. Dostoiewsky. Paris: L’Illustration, 1933.
In 1933, playwright Gaston Baty staged an adaptation of Crime and Punishment at the Montparnasse Theatre in Paris, France. Following the rich tradition of French stage adaptations of Dostoevsky’s novel at the turn of the century, most notably Paul Ginisty’s and Hugues Le Roux’s version of 1888 at the Théâtre de l’Odeon, Baty presented the novel in 20 scenes, divided into three parts. The play provides a condensed yet faithful rendition of the original text, though it omits the epilogue, instead ending with Raskolnikov turning himself in at the police station. The play was met with resounding praise, with an opening night review by Le Figaro concluding:
Admirably chosen for the intensity of their profound significance, their picturesque quality, and their hallucinatory truth, these brief scenes captivate us. What a crime novel for a generation that adores this genre of literature!
Gaston Baty was a French playwright and theatre director. After working as an actor for the first years of his career, he founded the Compagnons de la Chimère theatre group in 1921, became director of the Studio des Champs-Élysées from 1924-1928, and was appointed head of the Théâtre Montparnasse in 1930. His stage adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary was presented on Broadway in 1937, and his original play Dulcinea has been adapted for both television and film in France and the USA.
Zbrodnia i kara. Dir. Piotr Dumala (1956-). [Poland], 2000.
In 2000, Piotr Dumała released a short animation titled Crime and Punishment, which offers a shadowy portrayal of Dostoevsky’s text. The film opens with a dejected Raskolnikov lamenting the unhappiness of life and the filth of St. Petersburg. Having committed his fateful crime, he is tortured by the recollection of how, like Macbeth, he has blood on his hands which has tainted his surrounding world. Dumała takes as his subject matter only the murders and Raskolnikov’s meeting with the angelic Sonia, reflecting his assertion that, “this is about love and how obsession can destroy love. In our life we are under two opposite influences: to be good or bad, and to love or hate.” In this binary world, the animator presents a murky realm of elliptical, paranoid, and dimly-lit visuals that uniquely capture the uncertain distinction between dream and reality in Raskolnikov’s troubled mind.
Piotr Dumała, born in 1956 in Warsaw, is a Polish film director and animator known for his original technique of creating images by scratching lines into painted plaster. Each phase of movement is engraved with thin needles on a plasterboard painted in black, resulting in an intricately dark world that lends itself to the works of Franz Kafka and Dostoevsky. His interpretation of Crime and Punishment was selected for the second Animation Show of Shows in 2000, and his controversial work, Hipopotamy, received the Grand Prize for Independent Animation at the 2014 Ottawa International Animation Festival.
Rodney Ackland (1908-1991). Dostoievsky’s Crime and Punishment. London: S.Low, Marston, 1948.
Rodney Ackland’s dramatization of Dostoevsky’s novel premiered at the Opera House in Manchester on May 20, 1946, and opened in London one month later where it was staged continuously through the end of November. It then ran for forty performances at the National Theatre in New York City in late 1947 and early 1948, with John Gielgud reprising his role as Raskolnikov, and Lilian Gish replacing Edith Evans in the role of Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladova. The stage setting for both productions brought the 33 characters under one roof—the cross-section of a multi-story lodging-house connected by a stairway—with Marmeladov’s room in the centre of the stage. This allowed for the action to take place, sometimes simultaneously, in multiple rooms and floors, thus creating the impression of the uproar and confusion of life around Raskolnikov.
The American production received mixed reviews, with one critic commenting that “Two pound Russian novels cannot be serviceable eight-ounce dramas,” and another bemoaning anyone hoping to capture Dostoevsky’s novel in dramatic form “is bound to be guilty of believing that Niagara can be brought home in a bottle.” Despite these cynical judgments, Ackland’s play has been reprised throughout the world.
Ackland began his dramatic career at age sixteen playing the character Medvedev in Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths. He received his training at London’s Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, and then went on to act, direct, and write for theatre, film, and television. Aside from his reworking of Crime and Punishment¸ he also adapted for the stage Mikhail Bulgakov’s The White Guard (1938), and Alexander Ostrovsky’s Diary of a Scoundrel (1948).
Alexander Hausvater (1949-). The Crime and Punishment Show. Toronto: Playwrights Co-op, 1978.
The Crime and Punishment Show is an early work of the Romanian-born Canadian stage director and playwright Alexander Hausvater. First performed by the Montreal Theatre Lab at the Centaur Theatre in November 1975, the play consists of two acts divided into 16 scenes, and includes all the major characters of Dostoevsky’s original. The play is a faithful adaptation of the original text, save for its closing scene, as the epilogue of the novel is omitted and the play closes instead with Raskolnikov’s public confession of murder. In one scene, Hausvater places Raskolnikov in Sonia’s place of work, a brothel, surrounded by decadence and sordid scenes revealed in silhouette. Sonia rejects his call to flee to America, he confesses and kisses the ground, and thus brings an end to his intentions of evading punishment.
Alexander Hausvater was born in Bucharest, Romania, and first emigrated to Israel, where he lived from 1959-1967. There he graduated from the University of Tel Aviv before moving to Ireland, where he made his debut as theatre director with Enchanted West in 1971 at the Irish National Theatre, Dublin. Upon emigrating to Canada in 1971, he founded the Montreal Theatre Lab in 1973, and continued to great success on both a national and international level. His prolific repertoire includes many adaptations of Russian works which have met with great success: he staged Chekhov’s The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard (in Montreal and Iași, Romania) and the play Solzhenitsyn (in Montreal and Ottawa).