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Crime et châtiment 1935
Description: Pierre Chenal's adaptation of Dostoyevsky's novel, starring Pierre Blanchar and Harry Baur. Bears the influence of German Expressionism and serves as an early forerunner of poetic realism.
Released: 15 May 1935 Director: Pierre Chenal Writers: Marcel Aymé (dialogue), Pierre Chenal, Fyodor Dostoevsky (novel), Christian Stengel, Vladimir Strizhevsky Actors: Harry Baur, Pierre Blanchar, Madeleine Ozeray, Lucienne Le Marchand Genres: Crime, Drama
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Crime et châtiment Reviews:

Like The Brothers Karamazov, also by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment is a literary masterpiece, with a storyline that entertains and fully engrosses, a striking degree of psychological tension, interesting themes and as ever wonderful characterisation (if not as multi-dimensional as those in The Brothers Karamazov). But, as with The Brothers Karamazov, because of the mammoth length, the amount of depth, Dostoevsky's very intelligently literate but quite wordy style and the themes, adapting a storyline of this length and depth was never going to be simple and this 1935 French ver does a noble job doing so.Of the two versions seen of Crime and Punishment, both from 1935 (the more well-known ver being the Josef von Sternberg movie with Peter Lorre) neither are excellent but both are very solid movies and worth watching. If there was a private preference between the two, they are about equal but there is a slight preference towards this. In terms of how it's adapted, the tone, substance and psychological tension of the storyline are kept intact but because of cramming a long ebook into less than two hours it is understandably and inevitably condensed with omissions and things that are still here but not given the amount of development they should have had. As in the von Sternberg adaptation Sonya I accept is treated in a rather underdeveloped method here, which gives tiny room for Madeleine Ozeray to give the charm and emotional vulnerability needed, and while the romance wisely doesn't overshadow the main storyline of the crime and how it affects Raskolnikov it is written in such a bland, low-key method it was like it was almost forgotten about.However, this movie is incredibly well-made, and far superior to the production values in the von Sternberg film. The sets are laden with a true sense of doom, the lighting is eerily shadowy and the photography is both creepy and luminous. Arthur Honnegar's haunting melody score fits the mood like a glove, the script is intelligent and literate with the tension between Raskolnikov and Porphyre nail-biting and the storyline never drags its course over the nearly two hour length, the double crime stage is a masterstroke of gripping intensity and atmosphere, Raskolnikov's anguish is wholly convincing and never seemed overplayed and the chemistry between Raskolnikov and Porphyre is tension-sizzling. Pierre Chenal directs beautifully, allowing the atmosphere and tension to never slip, and the performances of the two leads along with the art direction is one of the film's main pleasures. Pierre Blanchar's interpretation of Raskolnikov is not quite as creepy as Peter Lorre's but it's more subtle, more nuanced and even more movingly anguished, without overplaying it (even just his feverish appearance is enough to convince one of the extent of the guilt). Even better is the brilliant Harry Baur (who I last saw as the definitive Valjean in the greatest movie ver of Les Miserables), the more anguished Raskolnikov and more suspicious Porphyre gets the more almost frightening the movie gets.In conclusion, a good, solid movie that's sadly underseen. 7/10 Bethany Cox


There was a lot of FRench films in the thirties which would take zone in Russia ("les Nuits Moscovites" ,"les Nuits de Saint-Petersburg" and even Renoir's "les Bas-Fonds" and Lherbier 's "la Tragédie Impériale ").All these works have in common the inability to make a Russian atmosphere .Paying in roubles and kopecks is not enough to create us trust we are in Russia.What am I driving at? Well,it is simple: if the direction and the actors are worthwhile ,then the film can be rewarding.Such is the situation of the popular Russian novel adaptation by Pierre Chenal.The stage of the double crime is particularly gripping ,using to enhance the tragedy Honegger's haunting music.Pierre Blanchard ,sometimes a bland actor, gave in "Crime et Chatiment" his greatest performance ever.His haunted eyes,his feverish look and his extreme nervousness are really impressive and his portrayal shows each nuance of his fragility and of his despair.Matching him all the method is Harry Baur's mischievous smooth-tongued portrayal of Judge Porphyre:he seems to enjoy cat and mouse with his suspect....and some viewers would go as far as to tell he 's a bit Colomboesque.On the another hand,the part of Sonia is underwritten and her will to follow the convict is not really convincing.That's the main trouble with the movie:the secondary are characters are not well treated .But the duel Blanchard/Baur makes it all worthwhile.



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