A Cruel Romance

Powerful Essays
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 percep...

... middle of paper ... by inventing a substantial portion of the before-time as well as contrasting his genuine love for Larisa against the self-serving exploitation of the other male suitors. Though this is a departure from the original playwright’s vision in which none of the male characters has Larisa’s best interests in mind, it nevertheless allows the audience to sympathize with Karandyshov. In focusing more on the love triangle however, the production team does not fully develop the money-driven selfishness of Knurov and Vozhevatov. Fully developing Robinson’s role, as is done in Without a Dowry would have further antagonized Larisa’s male suitors, all of whom are driving by self-serving interests. Overall, Ryazanov effectively conveys the dramatic tension surrounding the central love triangle, and A Cruel Romance remains one of the best film adaptations of Ostrovsky’s 1879 play.
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