The image of prince Myshkin in Russian cinema

PЯБОКОНЬ Анастасия Васильевна


The research is dedicated to the screen adaptations of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot made in Russia in different cultural and historical periods. Films produced from 1910 to 2003 are analyzed in chronological order, with the aim of showing the transformation of the image of Prince Myshkin (Prince Christ), one of the key images of Russian culture1 within Russian national consciousness.

The essay analyzes the following films:

  1. The Idiot (1910), directed by Pyotr Chardynin
  2. Idiot (Nastasya Filippovna) (1958), directed by Ivan Pyryev
  3. Idiot (1981), directed by Vladimir Tumaev
  4. Down House (2001), directed by Roman Kachanov
  5. Idiot (TV series, 2003), directed by Vladimir Bortko

The essay reveals gradual “trivialization” of the image of Prince Myshkin. The first step down was from the “divine child” of Pyotr Chardynin to the “angel” of Ivan Pyriev. God placed man above angels, so Chardynin shows Myshkin as a pure child of the Garden of Eden, the highest among the analyzed screen images of the novel’s main character. The second step was made from Pyriev's “angel” to Vladimir Tumaev's “fallen Adam”. In Tumaev’s 1981 adaptation, the image of Prince Myshkin is still characterized by evangelical parallels but they are absent in the characters created in the 2000s by Roman Kachanov and Vladimir Bortko. Ordinary people with varying degrees of mental disorders become substitutes for “Prince Christ”.


1 Dostoevsky calls Prince Myshkin "Prince Christ" in drafts to the The Idiot. The writer accentuates the evangelical parallels of this image are

Full Text

The article is devoted to the adaptations of Dostoyevsky’s novel Idiot created by Russian filmmakers in different cultural and historical periods. The films released from 1910 to 2003 are analyzed in the chronological order to trace the representation of the typological traits of Prince Myshkin (Prince Christ) as one of the key images of Russian culture in the national consciousness.

About the authors

Anastasia V. Ryabokon’


Author for correspondence.

Russian Federation

Post-Graduate Student, Department of Film Studies


  1. Dostoevskij F.M. (1984). Polnoe sobranie sochinenij: v 30 tomakh [Complete works in 30 volumes]. T. 26. – L.: Nauka, 1984. – 522 p.
  2. Dostoevskij F.M. (2010). Idiot: roman (“The Idiot”: novel}. – M.: AST MOSKVA, 2010. – 671 p.
  3. Pyrev I.A. (1959). Razmyshleniya o postavlennom filme [Reflections on the directed film] // Iskusstvo kino, 1959, №5.
  4. Roman F.M.Dostoevskogo «Idiot»: sovremennoe sostoyanie izucheniya [Dostoevsky's novel “The Idiot”: the current state of study]. Sbornik rabot otechestvennykh i zarubezhnykh uchenykh pod red. T.A. Kasatkinoj. – M.: Nasledie, 2001. – 557 p.
  5. Svyatoe Evangelie [Holy Gospel]. – Tutaev: Borisoglebskoe slovo, 2017. – 415 p.
  6. Telegin S.M. (2005). Russkij socializm vo Khriste Fedora Dostoevskogo [Russian socialism in Christ of Fyodor Dostoevsky] // Sovremennaya filologiya: itogi i perspektivy. Sbornik nauchnykh trudov. – M: Gosudarstvennyj institut russkogo yazyka im. A.S.Pushkina, 2005. – 391 p.

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