Russian Empire, “A. Khanzhonkov” Trading House, 1910, 20 minutes
Director: Pyotr Chardynin
Cameraman: Louis Forestier
Cast: Lyubov Varyagina, Andrey Gromov, Pavel Biryukov, Tatyana Shornikova, Arseniy Bibikov, Antonina Pozharskaya, B. Volgin.
For the first time, Fyodor Mikhalovich Dostoevsky’s novel "The Idiot" was filmed in 1910 by Pyotr Chardynin. The film, which lasted just over twenty minutes, included the main episodes of the novel. The approach to screen adaptation, in which the film “illustrated” a literary source, reducing it only to a plot scheme, was widespread in the period of early Russian cinema: this is how “Dead Souls”, “Eugene Onegin”, and “Anna Karenina” were transferred to the screen. But even in them one can find elements of interpretation characteristic of a later and more technologically advanced stage in the development of cinema.
When the film was released, critics noted that "from the technical point of view, the execution of the picture is impeccable" (S.L. Sredi novinok [Among the new films] // Sine-Fono, 1910. 6. S. 12), and the viewers, despite such a succinct retelling, are presented with “a beautiful outline of the novel". (Vestnik kinematografii, 1910. 1. S. 5. Quoted in: Velikiy Kinemo. M., 2002. S. 51.)
In general, the film seems to be quite well-executed against the background of the film production of those years. In it, Chardynin’s characteristic interest in the in-depth composition of the shot is already noticeable. Subsequently, the director began to use mise-en-scenes, in which the hero appeared at the back of the shot, and then slowly walked towards the camera.
Attempts to adapt for the screen not only plots, but also literary styles were later undertaken by Yakov Protazanov and Evgeny Bauer in their film adaptations of the works of Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Turgenev. The first such film, based on Dostoevsky’s novel “The Demons”, was made by Protazanov in 1915 (“Nikolay Stavrogin”) with Ivan Mozzhukhin in the title role.