Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Student [2012]

Unrated (would be PG-13/R)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing -

Student [2012] directed by Darezhan Omirabayev is a Kazakh film (filmed in Russian with English subtitles) that I saw recently at the 48th Annual Chicago International Film Festival (Oct. 11-25, 2012) that sets the story of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous novel 19th century Crime and Punishment in contemporary Almaty, Kazakhstan

The Raskolnikov character of Dostoyevsky's novel, known in this film as simply "the Student" (played by Nurlan Bajtasov) is a quiet/sullen, shoulder's bent, eyes always looking toward the ground philosophy student who American viewers would probably recognize as a clearly troubled youth / potential "school shooter."  When we meet him, he's already "on the edge."  Working on a film crew, he tries bring "some tea" to the lead actress only to spill the hot water on her.  She, apparently the girl friend of a powerful post-Communist banker, get's upset and when the banker's entourage comes to pick her up after the shoot, she has two of the thugs beat him up for the "insult" he caused.

A few scene's later, he's at a philosophy class, where the lecturer is praising the status of who things are today: "Yes, even Kazakhstan has its millionaires, even billionaires, oligarchs.  Don't resent them, try to be like them.  For 70 years we believed in a system that could life everyone up.  Today we know that we can't prosperity as a herd.  Prosperity is to be fought for by each person's individual's initiative.  Yes, there will be poor people.  You can pity them but don't waste too much time on them.  The law of nature is that the strong survive."

A Friend of the Student asks the Lecturer: "Doesn't it then logically follow in such a Darwinist world that those wishing to be successful would come to murder their rivals."  And there it is, the seed is planted.

Like in the novel, the Student doesn't kill anybody particularly significant.  And just as in the novel, he immediately finds himself needing to kill someone who is completely innocent.  He also has a mother and sister who love him, even visit him, but don't have a clue of what's going on in his head.  There's also a Sonia character that he grows to love.  As the implications of what he had done begin to close in on him in his head, The Student, like Raskolnikov in Dostoyevski's novel begins to lose his grip on reality and to bring himself back, it becomes increasingly clear what he must do.

Readers here who've read the novel we know how it ends and those who didn't should note that Dostoyevsky's novel was written in the 19th century.  As a result, both the novel and this story end better than some of the experiences that we've had in the United States with similarly distressed youth.

All in all, I found Darezhan Omirabayev's adaptation very interesting and I probably would not have made the connection between Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov and various distressed youth ranging from Timothy McVeigh or the school shooters at places like Virginia Tech or NIU.  That's a pretty good insight that comes from the country, Kazakhstan, that Sasha Baron Cohen brutally/gratuitously chose to ridicule in Borat [2005].

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  1. I have recently found a fil which may be interesting for students, especially prospective one:
    Students' Movie

  2. The upcoming comedy "Admission" starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd is definitely a different kind of movie than this one (from Kazakhstan and based on Dostoyevski's "Crime and Punishment." Nevertheless, if it brings traffic here, why not ;-). Looking forward to seeing the Tina Fey movie as well ;-).

  3. Thankfulness to my dad who informed me relating to this blog, this website is really amazing.kazakh film