courses > 2005 spring

Elective Courses

CINE 302 - Tolstoy and Film

RUSS 202
401 | MW 3-4:30pm

At the turn of the twentieth century, when film was just emerging on the cultural scene, Leo Tolstoy predicted that his fledging art form would have a great future. Since then Tolstoy’s fiction has inspired over a hundred film adaptations around the world; virtually every year a new rendition of one of Tolstoy’s literary works appears on the screen. In this course we will read novels and short stories by Tolstoy and watch their adaptations on film. Viewing films made in the US, Great Britain, Russia, France, Italy, Sri Lanka, and Japan, we will study the reception of Tolstoy’s art and philosophy throughout the twentieth century. We will ponder reasons for the enduring cinematic appeal of Tolstoy’s classics and discuss challenges of translating literary texts into film, in general, and Tolstoy’s works, in particular. We will analyze various directors’ attempts—sometimes successful, sometimes not—to offer radical interpretations of Tolstoy’s timeless and universal themes. Readings will include War and Peace, Anna Karenina, “The Death of Ivan Iliich”, “The Forged Coupon”, “Father Sergius”, “The Prisoner of the Caucasus”, and Resurrection. Screenings will include film adaptations, interpretations, and homages by Robert Bresson, King Vidor, Yakov Protazanov, Sergei Bodrov, Akira Kurosawa, Paolo Taviani, Woody Allen, Sergei Bondarchuk, and Prasanna Vithanage. All readings, films, and lectures in English.