Dostoevsky and World Cinema

Professor Gerald Pirog     

Spring 2007




Camilla Bergstrom and Phillipe Bergeron in Sumin's Shades of Day

Shades of Day

Nick Nolte and James Coburn in Schrader's Affliction (1997)




















Course Description

Prof. Gerald Pirog






Academic Integrity






This course will examine two types of films that are connected to Dostoevsky's fiction: Cinematic "adaptations" of the novels or novellas, and films that have been influenced by his writings. I have chosen mostly non-Russian films for several reasons. Many western adaptations are more interesting than the typical Soviet versions. Dostoevsly was always a problem for Soviet critics and this is reflected, as we will see in Kulidzhanov's Crime and Punishment, in filmic versions. A second logistic reason is that most Russian versions do not come with subtitles.

Specifically we will study the following films:

Cinematic adaptations:

1.     Crime and Punishment (Chenal, Von Sternberg, Kulidzhanov)

2.     The Idiot(Kurosawa, Bortko)

3.     Notes from Underground (Walkow)

4.     A Gentle Creature (Bresson)

5.     The Gambler (Makk)

6.     White Nights (Bresson, Visconti)

Films influenced by Dostoevsky's writings:

1.     New York Stories (Scorsese , Life Lessons, The Gambler)

2.     Affliction (Schrader, Brothers Karamazov)

3.     Partner (Bertolucci, The Double)

4.     Shades of Day (Sumin, White Nights)

The course is as much a course on cinema as on literature. We will be concerned with formal cinematic issues: camera angles, depth of field, arrangement in space, lighting, music, etc. You should give close attention to the way a film LOOKS as well as how it treats Dostoevsky's work. We will be considering what happens when a text in one medium--language--is transformed into another medium--film.

Each Tuesday we will screen a film. Thursdays will be devoted to discussion. You should read all the works we are discussing in advance of the screening.

Reading assignments will be available online at e-reserve or directly from the course's website. If you have not read the works that are related to the films, you should include that as part of the reading assignment. See Links page for texts.

Course Requirements:

1.     Attendance: You are required to be present at every class. Two absences are automatically excused but you are still required to do the readings and view the films. Any more than two absences for what ever reason may affect your grade. (20% of grade)

2.     Readings are to be done by the day they are assigned. If you have not yet read the relevant work by Dostoevsky, you are required to read it by the relevant film date.

3.     Participation: You will get extra consideration in the day of final reckoning if you have contributed to discussions in class. I understand that some students just can't speak up in a strange group. I will try to create an atmosphere where discussion is encouraged and facilitated. It is the life of the class. (10% of grade)

4.     Writing: You will be required to send me an e-mail "journal" entry each week by Friday 6:00 PM. A short (250-350 words) response to the films and the readings is required each week. It will comprise 20% of your grade.

5.     Two short (5-6 page) essays on topics to be announced early in the semester. (25% each)
















Course Description


Academic Integrity




Under Construction 12/31/06

Prof. Gerald Pirog







Academic Calendar

Tuesday January 17


Work by Dostoevsky

Thursday 1/19    

Readings: Visconti (item #11 on e-reserve)


Tuesday 1/24

Visconti, Le Notti Bianche (1957)

White Nights

Thursday 1/26



Tuesday 1/31

Bresson, Quatre nuit d'un rÍveur (1972)

White Nights

Thursday 2/2

Cunneen: Chapter 10: The Education of a Romantic (Item #10 on e-reserve)


Tuesday 2/7

Sumin, Shades of Day (2006)

White Nights

Thursday 2/9



Tuesday 2/14

   Bresson, Une Femme Douce (1969)

A Gentle Creature

Thursday 2/16



Tuesday 2/21

       Walkow, Notes From Underground (1995)

Notes from Underground

Thursday 2/23



Tuesday 2/28

   Kulidzhanov, Prestuplenie i nakazanie (1965)

Crime and Punishment

Thursday 3/2

Readings: Crime-Canby (item # 3 on e-reserve)


Tuesday 3/7

   Chenal, Crime et Ch‚timent (1935)

Crime and Punishment

Thursday 3/9




Spring Recess 3/11-3/19


Tuesday 3/21

      Von Sternberg, Crime and Punishment (1936)

Crime and Punishment

Thursday 3/23



Tuesday 3/28

     Kurasawa, The Idiot (1951)

The Idiot

Thursday 3/30

Readings: Idiot-Kurosawa-Richie (item # 5 on e-reserve)


Tuesday 4/4

  Makk, The Gambler (1998)

Scorsese, "Life Lessons" In New York Stories (1987)

The Gambler

Thursday 4/6

Redadings: Life Lessons-Nyce (item # 9 on e-reserve)


Tuesday 4/11

   Bertolucci Partner

The Double

Thursday 4/13



Tuesday 4/18

   Schrader, Affliction, (1998)

The Brothers Karamazov

Thursday 4/20

Readings: Schrader


Tuesday 4/25



Thursday 4/27

Last Class


Monday 5/1

Classes end

























Film Notes

Prof. Gerald Pirog











Shades of Day

Drama/Fiction Feature


The film introduces us to the enchanting Linda, whose life is centered around a planned reunion with her former lover Paul. Her plans change in remarkable ways as she encounters an extraordinary cast of characters including a new lover and a pornography producer who is pursued by the M afia.


Running Time




102 m


Vitaly Sumin

Vitaly Sumin & Jeff Bergquist


Production company

VM Productions
1247 Lincoln Blvd.
Santa Monica , C A 90401
United States
Phone: 310-358-9969  Fax: 310-358-9969



Contact Name

Vitaly Sumin

Contact Phone


Web A ddress


V M Productions


Gus Blaudziunas

M usic

Cengiz Yaltkaya


Eric Chase & Vitaly Sumin

Production Design

M att Hill




Camilla Bergstrom
A lexander Smith
Brian Paul Stuart
Philippe Bergeron
Joseph Cardinale



Film Distribution is Open 

Theater, Video, TV, International, Internet

Film A gent


Film A gent Phone


Production Start


Production Year




Film Format

Super 16

Film Format Ratio


Film Sound

Dolby SR

Film Video Type

Broadcast version



Director Bio and Credits



Film School attended

University Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris, France - cinema



Screenwriter Bio and Credits




Number of Reels














Amazonís Wicki entry:


In his intriguing course "Dostoevsky and Cinema" professor Gerald Pirog  investigates what happens when a text in one medium (language) is transformed into another medium (film). "Shades of Day" is one of the mostly non-Russian films he has selected for his course, mainly because he believes that many western adaptations are more interesting than the typical Soviet versions; Dostoevsky was always a problem for Soviet critics. "Shades of Day" is the modern day adaptation of Dostoevskyís classic novella "White Nights", taking place in Los Angles and continuing a multilayered romantic tradition deeply imbedded in the Western culture. (Please check out the course here: