Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Annoyed By 'Western' Public Television, Pan Cogito Dusts Off Hard-back Copies Of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's 'The First Circle' And 'The Cancer Ward'

In January 2006, a RTR TV television serial based on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1968 novel The First Circle, about the moral dilemma of political prisoners who were also scientists working for the Stalinist state, attracted an audience of 15 million in the Russian Federation. Solzhenitsyn helped adapt the novel for the screen and narrated the film, which was directed by Gleb Panfilov.

Thirty-three years earlier, in 1973, the Polish director Aleksander Ford made an English-language film based on the novel. It was a Danish-Swedish co-production. While it hewed closely to Solzhenitsyn's plot, the film was a critical and commercial failure.

Fifteen years earlier, the 1991 Canadian TV miniseries based on the novel, The First Circle, won Canada's Gemini Award for Best Photography in a Dramatic Program or Series, awarded to Ron Orieux. Directed by Larry Sheldon, it received nominations for best dramatic miniseries, best actor, best actress, and best writing in the category. It starred Victor Garber, Christopher Plummer, Robert Powell and Dominic Raacke; and F. Murray Abraham as Stalin. It was later released on DVD.

Source: Wikipedia. Viewship statistic in opening paragraph from The Financial Times, August 5, 2008.


Characters in The First Circle

• Victor Semyonovich Abakumov: Minister of State Security.

• Grigory Borisovich Adamson: A zek engineer, serving his second term.

• Bobynin: Zek boss of Laboratory Number Seven at Marfino.

• Vladimir Erastovich Chelnov: Professor of Mathematics, a "transient zek," serving his eighteenth year of imprisonment.

• Rostislav (Ruska) Vadimich Doronin: A zek mechanic, 23.

• Ivan Selivanovich Dyrsin: A zek engineer.

• Larisa Nikolayevna Emina: A free employee in the Design Office at Marfino.

• Dinera Galakhov: Daughter of the prosecutor Makarygin, wife of Nikolai Galakhov.

• Nikolai (Kolya) Arkadevich Galakhov: A popular writer.

• Illarion Pavlovich Gerasimovich: A zek physicist specializing in optics, a relative newcomer to Marfino.

• Natalya Pavlovna Gerasimovich: His wife.

• Isaak Moiseyevich Kagan: The zek "director of the battery room."

• Ilya Terentevich Khorobrov: A zek radio engineer, imprisoned for defacing his election ballot.

• Lieutenant Colonel Ilya Terentevich Klimentiev: Head of the Marfino Special Prison.

• Gleb Vikentyevich Nerzhin: A zek mathematician, age 31. An autobiographical character.

• Nadya Nerzhin: Gleb's wife.

• Lev Grigoryevich Rubin: A zek philologist and teacher, 36, a Communist from youth. Rubin is based on Solzhenitsyn's friend Lev Kopelev.

• Dmitri Aleksandrovich Sologdin: A zek designer, 36, a survivor of the northern camps now serving his second term. Sologdin is based on Solzhenitsyn's friend Dimitrii Mikhailovich Panin, who later wrote a book entitled The Notebooks of Sologdin.

• Serafima Vitalyevna (Simochka): A prison guard.

• Innokentii Artemyevich Volodin: A Ministry official whose phone call at the beginning of the book functions as a catalyst for much of the later action in the sharashka.

Photo credit: (c) Goin Photography. 2006. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. Via dailyemerald.com, the Independent Student Newspaper at the University of Oregon, and media.collegepublisher.com. With thanks.


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