The best film adaptation of Chekhov’s Platonov.
The film Platonov received three awards at the Vienna Independent Film Festival 2017 – Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography and Best Actress. It was made in 2015 by a German director Andreas Morell and is based on an early play by Anton Chekhov which was found only after his death and did not even have a name. This play is less known than Chekhov’s other plays and was staged not so often and rarely has been adapted for cinema.
Events in Morell’s Platonov take place not in nineteen century Russia, but in contemporary Germany.
Morell’s task of adapting this play into a film was not an easy one, especially when taking into account the limited budget he had. It could have been just another play on a screen, but thanks to the director and cinematographer Felix Cramer it became a brilliant cinematographic piece.
Andreas Morell showed that this play is still current.
There was an apocalyptic feeling before the revolution in Russia when society was demoralized and we see similarities with contemporary reality.
The director should be praised for his choice of actors. The role of Platonov was especially important, he was portrayed by the rising star Robert Besta who has all the qualities for this role; charisma, intellect and irony. The role was challenging as the character is complex: a disillusioned school master who is sometimes cynical and self-critical. He finds refuge in heavy drinking as finally he is not able to deal with reality.
Sonja is played by Franziska Petri who received the Best Actress award at VIFF 2017. She is tender, feminine, romantic and at the same time she is cruel, violent and obsessive. It is interesting that this play was written specifically for Maria Yermolova, a famous Russian actress, but she rejected the role and so for a long time this play was left undiscovered. The film is more than just a love-triangle story; it is a critical analysis of the contemporary society with some elements of nostalgia for the beautiful but lost time. The role of the fiancé was played by the well-known actor Stefan Grossman. His character is also memorable and probably very close to what Chekhov wanted to see on the stage. He might look naive, but he is calculating and deceiving. He wants to build his marriage on sand and is afraid to face reality.
This is the best version of Platonov on film and is without a doubt among the top Chekhov adaptations.