Crime and Punishment (1935): French Version of Dostoyevsky Famous Novel

This French version (original title: Crime et Chatiment) of Dostoyevsky’s famous 1866 novel goes out of its way to be faithful to the original literary source, which has inspired many different films, including several Hollywood versions.

Made by Général Productions and distributed by Les Grands Spectacles Cinématographiques, the film was directed by Pierre Chenal, produced by Michel Kagansky, and stars Pierre Blanchar as the eccentric sociopathic student Raskolnikov and Harry Baur as the humanist detective Porfiry.

Holding himself intellectually and morally above (and outside) the law, Raskolnikov kills a despicable old shopkeeper.  He is certain that he has no conscience to bother him, but he is eventually forced to confront himself by the kind Nand diligent Porfiry.

Most of the film describes the student’s lifelong inner torment and obsessive search for forgiveness after he is released from prison.

The Hollywood version of Crime and Punishment, made in the same year and directed by German emigree Josef von Sternberg (Blue Angel), ended with Raskolnikov’s surrender.