Dec. 27th, 2009

labingi: (ivan)
I have been waiting for about 4 years for this miniseries to be made and subbed in English, and now it is here! (Albeit my диск is defective and needs to be returned. I have still been able to watch several episodes.)

In the main, I am very impressed. The obvious point of comparison is the 1968 film, which is played much higher, much more theatrically. This new series is enormously understated in comparison, and there are good and bad things about that. Good: it feels very realistic and lacks the "silent movie" emoting of Pyriev's film. Bad: at worst, there is a loss of emotion, inflection, and even style that still makes Pyriev's film so fantastic.

A brief breakdown of the characters:

Dmitri: very good (very cute). He strikes a nice balance in being frenetic without being as theatrically stylized as his 1968 version.

Ivan: No one can compare with Ivan in the above icon. Sure, he was too old for the role, but his mix of humor, seriousness, cool, and raving was perfect for the role. Now, in the new mini, I have not yet seen most of Ivan's big moments, but so far, he is falling flat. He has a tough act to follow.

Alyosha... should not make me think of Yagami Soichiro from the live action Death Note. Between the two of them, they have two facial expressions. I am disappointed, and I figure it's not the actor; it's the directing. It's always the directing. People do not know how to present Alyosha in the same way they don't know how to present Ophelia. These characters are not stereotypes; they are complex. But with William Shatner, we got nothing but "I am a severe monk staring at you severely." With this fellow, we get nothing but "I am a virtuous monk looking a little dippy and confused." I hate to say it, but 1968 Alyosha is winning, in spite of his silent movie big-eye emoting ("OMG, you mentioned a strumpet!" and now I will fall comically headlong in the grass to exciting music of spiritual distress). At least he had more than one expression.

Papa Karamazov is bewilderingly young (as are many of these people - is this a Hollywoodizing thing?). He is very good, less histrionic than 1968 Papa, who was also very good. He conveys a real person who is an absolute dick yet also has real feelings, some intelligence, and sometimes thinky thoughts.

Smerdyakov keeps looking less comic with every adaptation, which is right and proper. This fellow is fine. He comes off as intelligent and put upon and entirely primed to be a murderer.

The women in general are much better in the mini than in the 1968 film. Both Grushenkas are awesome; 1968 Grushenka seemed older; 2009 Grushenka really could be 22, a self-made woman with hard years behind her but still very young and filled with adolescent passion.

Katya is actually likable in the mini, unlike her very annoying 1968 counterpart, who said everything way too fast and way too haughtily; 2009 Katya seems to be trying so hard to be good, which is exactly Katya's virtue and vice.

Lise! Lise exists, and that puts her 100% ahead of any other Lise I have (not) seen. Not only that, but she is a perfect cast: weird, outspoken, odd-looking, juvenile, yet extremely complicated and smart. She is Lise; it's just a damn shame she doesn't have a better Alyosha opposite her.

I am proud of this series. I am proud of it for making a 45-minute episode consisting of almost nothing but one scene of some guys in a room grilling a guy about the details of whether he killed his father. I didn't think they made TV like that anymore, even in Russia. All in all, the series is pleasantly true to the book. I look forward to seeing all of it when I get my discs replaced.

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