Japan, Shochiku, 1951, 166 minutes
Scriptwriters: Akira Kurosawa, Eijirô Hisaita
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Director of photography: Toshio Ubukata
Composer: Fumio Hayasaka
Cast: Masayuki Mori, Toshirô Mifune, Setsuko Hara, Takashi Shimura, Yoshiko Kuga, Chieko Higashiyama
In the film "The Idiot," Akira Kurosawa recreates the subjective vision of reality that is characteristic of its literary source. The director brings the main episodes of the novel to the screen, adding only a few changes. Thus, the illness of Prince Myshkin is motivated by a nervous shock experienced in captivity: just like Dostoevsky himself, he had been sentenced to death, but then unexpectedly pardoned. Kurosawa shows a traditional Japanese mask festival on a skating rink - in the novel, these are festivities in Pavlovsk, - and an equally traditional Japanese tea party at Akama's mother (Myshkin's tea party at Rogozhin's). In the finale, both main characters - Kameda and Akama - lose their minds during the night vigil at the body of Taeko Nasu (Myshkin and Rogozhin at the corpse of Nastasya Filippovna).
The film was widely appreciated in the West countries and in the USSR, but in Japan it was perceived as art that was far from the national tradition. Japanese film critic Akira Iwasaki, who highly appreciated Kurosawa's work, but at the same time did not share his aesthetic views, wrote that “...the director puts a person in a retort, creates certain conditions there, influences him in a certain way and observes the reaction." (Ivasaki A. Istoriia iaponskogo kino [History of Japanese cinema]. M., 1966. S. 181.) As Iwasaki notes, Kurosawa moves away from the "contemplation" characteristic of the traditions of earlier Japanese cinema, and seeks to "affirm ideas"; he is occupied with the "problems of human existence". (Ibid. S. 181.) Eastern culture itself appears in Kurosawa’s film as a metaphor for Dostoevsky’s "strange" world.
In the novel “The Idiot”, the characters are united by a subjective experience of space, which becomes a projection of their inner world. Kurosawa represents this fractured space with the help of shadows and unexpected geometric compositions. Sato, who participated in a conversation with the director published under the title “"The Secrets" of Craftsmanship”, associates these shadows with the work of Fritz Lang. (“Sekrety” masterstva. Besedy za kruglym stolom // Akira Kurosava. M., 1977. S. 186.) The film even has an actor playing the role of Myshkin’s shadow. The director Grigory Kozintsev accurately noticed the transgressions taking place in the spatial fabric of the film: “Then I clearly saw people walking through the Sennoy market I knew so well. But there was no trace of Petersburg on the screen. Only one single detail, related to Russia, went through the film like a haunting melody: it was snowing”. (Kozintsev G.M. Kurosava uzhe davno stal klassikom [Kurosawa has long become a classic] // Akira Kurosava. M., 1977. S. 186, 282.) While showing Hokkaido, Kurosawa shows Russia: a street stretching into the distance can be mistaken for Nevsky Prospekt, and a cold river, for one of Petersburg’s channels.
Dostoevsky’s world was also recreated through geometric compositions close to abstraction. Kurosawa tries to embody the subjectivity of vision inherent in Dostoevsky’s novels, resorting to abstraction, dense chiaroscuro, and the combination of heterogeneous spaces.
Based on the novel "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Kinji Kameda returns from captivity to Hokkaido. On the train, he meets Denkichi Akama, who tells him about his fatal passion for a woman named Taeko Nasu.