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A Cruel Romance Essay

1384 words - 6 pages

Released in 1983, Eldar Ryazanov’s A Cruel Romance remains the most compelling adaptation of Alexander Ostrovsky’s nineteenth century play about a beautiful but poor young woman desperately seeking love in an inherently selfish world. As in Without a Dowry (1879), the film centers on the dramatic conflicts between not only Larisa Ogudalov and her various suitors but also amongst the aspiring men themselves. Through its representation of Ostrovsky’s themes, Ryazanov’s production depicts the ramifications of humanity’s obsession with money, leading to misery, jealously and even death. When viewed through the prism of Konstantin Stanislavsky’s approach of dramatic performance, A Cruel Romance is largely effective in conveying the pivotal tensions of Ostrovsky’s original play, particularly in relation Larisa and Paratov. Furthermore, Ryazanov enhances Karandyshov’s role in the film in comparison to the nineteenth century text, emphasizing both the pathetic nature of his character and his justifiable desire for retribution against his tormentors. Given the limitations of the film genre however, Robinson’s role is substantially diminished in A Cruel Romance, as the production team foregoes the opportunity to further antagonize Larisa’s suitors in order to focus on the central love triangle. Though Ryazanov does not take full advantage of Ostrovsky’s exploration of the exploitative nature of all of the male characters, he is effective in developing the central romantic tensions of Without a Dowry in his 1983 film production.

Larisa Guzeyeva’s portrayal of Larisa Ogudalov in A Cruel Romance is concordant with Ostrovsky’s own conception of the character in his original nineteenth century play. In order to enhance the audience’s perception of the Ogudalov’s predicament, the film production team places greater emphasis on Larisa’s before-time and given circumstances, inventing an opening scene in which her sister Olga is married off to a Caucasian noble. In doing so, Ryazanov explicitly portrays Larisa’s lack of a dowry and the overriding significance of money to both her fate and the interactions of her suitors. Guzeyeva also effectively conveys the overriding objective and desire of her character to be with Paratov, staring in adoration as he draws near and marveling at all of his extravagance and bravado. Her dramatic performance most poignantly portrays this when she admires Paratov’s strength in moving the horse cart and she unflinchingly accepts to dangle a watch for him to shoot at. Guzeyeva furthers extends this characterization to her subtext, as whenever she is in the presence of any other man, she nonchalantly rejects their advances and invariably betrays a longing for Paratov. Her characterization of Larisa strikingly captures the hopelessness of her predicament; unable to marry the man she loves without the dowry to alleviate his financial troubles. Thus, the film is effective in depicting Larisa’s difficult given circumstances and her...

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