For those who live and breathe novels, there can be no other pleasure dearer than watching their favorite 2D characters brought to life on screen. The fantasy that they have been cultivating all these years in their heads seems to have finally been acceded; to see the words get live on screen. What is funny is that all the films considered as classics are mostly plated from classic novels or short stories. Of course, the director uses his skill and ingenuity to create the story, but the baseline is from novels. Literature and cinema have always been engaged in a romantic relationship; a lot of films have been imbued by novels and in a few samplings, the films have imbued many a novel.
However, there might be some people who are not fine with the time constraints a film has because of which the storyline gets rewritten; sometimes rather heavily or entirely alters from the original novel on account of artistic freedom, the refined happiness of the novel being eternalized yet again in the form of a film, on the celluloid, is unmatched.
Films Adapted from Russian Novels
Just like a wise man once said, “There is no story like a Russian story.” Almost Russian novels are known for their considerable pages, long sentences, and intense philosophical dialogue. Even in modern’s day, Russian writers have still considered a source of inspiration for other writers all over the world. This somehow extends to filmmakers and directors who have created tons of films adapted from Russian novels.
Unfortunately, when shifting the characters and storyline from page to screen, some of the spells seem to be lost in the progress. For a bibliophile, a film can never compare to the novel. Though the films can hardly live up to the grandeur and glory of the written word, these films have just seized the gist of the novel from which they have been plated, and in some cases, even surpassed it. Are you curious yet? Written below are the 4 best films of all time adapted from Russian novels.
- Anna Karenina from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
There is no deadlier sort of film than a sapless literary adaptation. Thank God, Joe Wright the filmmaker seems not capable of making one. Wright has successfully delivered a kinetic, touching take on the novel. It seems like he had all the formula needed to crack Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina open and see what he can do with its features. He managed to create a new adapted film that shortens the backpack-breaking novel, and with utmost audacity, does its action as a stage production that does not try to hide its own theatricality.
The film is a witching affair, a particularly stylized treatment of Tolstoy’s realistic novel. The film version might have to discard a great deal of the novel’s essential slips into politics and affairs, but it does really well by its core issue.
- War and Peace from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace
On the basis scale and ambition, Sergei Bondarchuk’s film War and Peace might as well be considered the best film of all time. Some hour’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, Bondarchuk’s film is so far the most luxurious production in the history of the Soviet Union, and it definitely looks like one.
The film incorporates priceless artifacts, tons of lavishly costumed extras, a lot of military weapons, and a zoo that includes rare wolf-hunting borzois, hundreds of horses, and a beer-drinking bear. Those are swept before the audiences’ eyes in a steady flux of ecstatic stimulation. Just like the novel, the film adapted from it is a work that wants to provide as many thoughts, feelings, and perspectives as possible.
- Onegin from Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin
Onegin is full of beautiful, if not fascinating images, starting with Ralph Fiennes (the lead actor) passing across the snow-covered countryside in a troika to the duel which is carried out on a jetty on a misty lake, and to the final shots in St. Petersburg and the enthralling last meeting between Tatyana the lead female character and Onegin the lead male character in an austere room in her posh townhouse who are handled with great passion.
What is incredible is that the film is not just a bunch of great visual set pieces. This film also provides the audiences with the dialogue which has been stripped away into almost picturesque exchanges and the well-chosen cast time to cultivate a physical language for their respective roles. In that respect, and in its staple simplicity, this film is true to the spirit of Pushkin’s original novel.
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov
The film boasts one glorious scene, one of those mesmerizing moments when the screen is filled with the perfect balance of music, emotion, and milieu. Maria Schell taking the role of Grushenka dances in an ever firming circle as if in a trance, Yul Brynner taking the role of Dmitri Karamazov watches her, transfixed, a group of gypsies play the music, and slowly but surely the set is in a cradle of passion.
The rest of the experience, however, can hardly touch the same heights. There are plenty of tension, passion, vigor, and characters living life like there is no tomorrow and planning to get ahead at the risk of one and all. The womanizing, drinking, and back-stabbing are harebrained.
With brooding intention and against the gloomy rural Russian background, the story works its way to some dramatic dead ends where impertinence trumps any form of logic, a pile of money becomes an obsession, lust and love collide into ruination, and not much of anything is obtained or resolved. The Karamazov brothers end up in what seems like squabbles. Their spirits wasted on petty disputes.
So, those are 4 best films of all time adapted from Russian novels.