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RASKOLNIKOW (1923)
aka Raskolnikov, Crime and Punishment
Article 5375 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-19-2017
Directed by Robert Wiene
Featuring Grigori Chmara, Elisabeta Skulskaja, Alla Tarasova
Country: Germany
What it is: Crime drama

A student, under the belief of a philosophy that certain people are above the law, murders a stockbroker and her daughter with an axe.  He manages to get away with the murder, but can he get away from his own conscience...?

When I was looking for this one, I discovered there were two different versions of the film on YouTube to choose from; one with Russian subtitles that ran almost two hours long, and one in English that was very badly framed and ran only seventy minutes.  Despite the fact that there was a language comprehension issue, I chose the Russian version, for several reasons; it was more complete in every regard, I have a certain familiarity with the novel, and, seeing how the novel is very well known, it wasn't too difficult to find a summary of the plot that helped me through.  

Still, the movie was a bit difficult when it came to sorting out some of the subplots, but the main thrust of the story about a man who can't quite escape his conscience comes through very well.  It helps that both the actors who play the student and the detective who suspects him give excellent performances; the scenes between them are highlights.  The movie was also directed by Robert Wiene, who uses some of the same expressionistic style he used in THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI; it's not as pervasive as in that movie, but it's noticeably there, especially in the scenes in the building where the murder takes place.  Walt Lee states the fantastic content of the movie is Wiene's style (it's the only version of the story listed in his book), but there's a handful of dream/hallucination sequences which do lapse into the fantastic as well, including one in which the pawnbroker appears as a grotesque giantess.  The movie is perhaps too long. but it's effective enough of the time that it makes for a decent adaptation of the novel.

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