Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment Presented in a Beautifully Animated Short Film

In this dark­ly poet­ic ani­ma­tion, the Pol­ish film­mak­er Piotr Dumala offers a high­ly per­son­al inter­pre­ta­tion of Fyo­dor Dos­toyevsky’s clas­sic nov­el, Crime and Pun­ish­ment. “My film is like a dream,” Dumala said in 2007. “It is as if some­one has read Crime and Pun­ish­ment and then had a dream about it.”

Dumala’s ver­sion takes place only at night. The sto­ry is told expres­sion­is­ti­cal­ly, with­out dia­logue and with an altered flow of time. The com­plex and mul­ti-lay­ered nov­el is pared down to a few cen­tral char­ac­ters and events: In the Russ­ian city of Saint Peters­burg, a young man named Raskol­nikov lies in his dark room brood­ing over a bloody crime.

He mur­ders an old woman with whom he had pawned his watch. When her younger sis­ter comes home unex­pect­ed­ly, he mur­ders her too. He con­fess­es to a saint­ly young woman named Sonya. The sin­is­ter eaves­drop­per Svidri­gailov knows of Raskol­nikov’s love for Sonya, and of his sins. In the end Svidri­gailov takes a pis­tol and “goes to Amer­i­ca” by killing him­self.

Dumala com­plet­ed his half-hour film of Crime and Pun­ish­ment (Zbrod­nia i Kara) in 2000, after three years of work. He has a unique method: He takes a white plas­ter pan­el and coats the sur­face with glue. He then paints over it with a dark col­or and lets it dry. He uses a knife and sand­pa­per to engrave his image, cre­at­ing a hatch­ing effect that gives it a feel­ing of tex­ture. To add dark­ness to a light area, he adds more paint with a brush.

It’s a form of “destruc­tive ani­ma­tion.” Each image exists only long enough to be pho­tographed and then paint­ed over to cre­ate a sense of move­ment. It’s a process that some­times makes Dumala sad. “I think some­times when I do a draw­ing in my film, I want to keep it,” he told Melis­sa Chi­movitz of Ani­ma­tion World Net­work in 1997, “but I must destroy it because this is the tech­nique I use. I must destroy every frame to put in its place anoth­er one, the next one, to have move­ment. This way, some­times I think it is too much suf­fer­ing, to destroy all the time what I am doing.”

If you appre­ci­ate Dumala’s take on Dos­toyevsky, you won’t want to miss his 1992 treat­ment of Franz Kaf­ka.

Dumala’s films are housed in our list of Free Movies Online. Dos­toyevsky’s Crime and Pun­ish­ment appears in our Free Audio Books and Free eBooks col­lec­tions.

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Relat­ed con­tent:

Albert Camus Talks About Adapt­ing Dos­toyevsky for the The­atre, 1959

Kafka’s Night­mare Tale, ‘A Coun­try Doc­tor,’ Told in Award-Win­ning Japan­ese Ani­ma­tion

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Comments (7)
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  • pantelis says:

    hi there. I’m look­ing for some con­tact with mr Dumala. Could you give me some hint? Are these films (both Kaf­ka and Crime and Pun­ish­ment) free to screen?

  • iren schio says:

    Com­pelling­ly Beau­ti­ful , thank you !

  • Tim Shey says:

    Very beau­ti­ful film.

  • Samuel Lechuga says:

    Beau­ti­ful. Pure aes­thet­ic. Great work

  • ignas bednarczyk says:

    I am afraid the Dos­to­evsky is warped by add- ons- which evi­dence to show that open media seems to be open more to adver­tis­ing than cul­ture. This pre­vents see­ing the oth­er’s I just don’t have the time to be led astray by all the total lack of itemi­sa­tion.

  • Bill Kreml says:

    It is said by some Russ­ian schol­ars that Putin is much influ­enced by Dos­toesvsky. He saw the enforced West­ern­iza­tion that occurred after the Cold War as a con­t­a­m­i­na­tion of the Russ­ian cul­ture which was, at root, deeply reli­gious. My expe­ri­ence at a Moscow con­fer­ence in 1992 was that of all the Russ­ian groups that were rep­re­sent­ed, the angri­est by far were the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church. They were furi­ous with the intru­sions of the Amer­i­can evan­gel­i­cals whom they saw as false prophets and pro­pogan­dists for a for­eign cul­ture.

  • J.R.McFarling says:


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