The working title of my research paper is “And if There is no God?” Christianity in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and its Film Adaptations. I intend to focus on classical Russian literature of the 19th century, also known as the literature of the Golden Age. Choosing from all the great Russian writers was difficult but, after narrowing it down to the top dozen, I chose Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881). Ever since his works were published, his philosophy on life, society and, in particular, religion have been scrutinized by notable scholars. Boyce Gibson and Ernest Simmons are just a few who have studied Dostoevsky’s literary works. In his book The Religion of Dostoevsky, Gibson analyzes Dostoevsky’s conception of religion from his early years to his life in Siberia. Simmons writes about the characters of Crime and Punishment and their relationship with society and religion. Results of their research, in particular, will be incorporated in my paper.
The goal of my project is twofold. First, I plan to analyze the text of the novel itself. Second, I will project my findings onto the corresponding film adaptations that have been created by various Russian and American directors. In this part of my research, I want to compare how Dostoevsky’s religious philosophical ideas are carried over into films.
During the initial stage of my research, I have been using the library’s databases and search programs that helped me find quite a number of pertaining articles and monographs. “The Other Lazarus in Crime and Punishment” by Linda Ivanits and “The “Russian Vogue” in Europe and “Hollywood: The Transformation of Russian Stereotypes through the 1920’s” by Oksana Bulgakowa are just a few articles to name. As I dive deeper into this research I begin to understand not only Dostoevsky and his Christian philosophy, but how the political and social circumstances influenced cinematographic adaptations of his work.
As mentioned above, during the second stage of my research, I will dwell on major film adaptations viewed from the comparative perspective. I will examine Crime and Punishment by Josef von Sternebrg (1935, USA), Crime and Punishment mini-series by Michael Darlow (1979,UK), Crime and Punishment by Lev Kulidjanov (1970, USSR) and Crime and Punishment series by Andrey Sigle (2007, Russia). In order to ascertain cultural differences in representing Dostoevsky’s Christian philosophy in these adaptations, I will need to explore not only the directors’ styles but also the socio-political and cultural circumstances under which these films were created.