Modern St. Petersburg's maps quite frequently ignore Moskatelniy lane, located between Griboyedov channel & Bankovsky lane. However it was exactly the place where BBC made up mind to shoot the most mass & complicated from the director point of view scene from the "Crime & Punishment" series. The lane was leased for couple of days, transformed into 'marketplace' of the previous century & begot associations not so much with Dostoyevsy, as with native for Englishmen Dickens.
15 horses, 2 cows, flock of gooses, pigs & dozen of the dogs neighed, barked, grunted in all the possible ways, drawing attention of the locals. Dozen of the idlers for hours kept vigil near the barrier & didn't give the security any opportunity to relax. Even the journalists couldn't get in Moskatelniy lane without accreditation.
In addition to Moskatelniy the filming took place in Petropavlovskaya fortress, in Tuchkovsky lane etc. But mentioned in the novel yards, stairs, apartments stayed off screen. Peterburg was shown through the reflections in the pools, channels, Neva in distorted yellow and blue tones & hues - damp even in "white" nights (the watering machines were used before every shot to impart streets this "wet' look).
The wizard of TV projects Julian Jarrold - weird director. Unapproachable for the press, he entrusted all the PR to producer David Snodin. "Englishmen think it's hard to film in Russia, - the producer says. - I think it's all the same everywhere. Here it's easier to stop the traffic, then in London, - people meet halfway." It was Snodin who started this project. He suggested the idea of adaptation his favorite novel, recruited writer Tony Marchent to the work at the screenplay. Snodin even wanted to persuade 'Pånguin' to publish new "Crime & Punishment' edition with John Simm on the cover.
John Simm as Raskolnikov is intended to reconcile the adherents of the traditional screen adaptations & those who prefer modernized classic. "The image of the Raskolnikov for me is very close to one of Hamlet, - says Simm. - It's a big challenge - to portray this character. I studied the Stanislavsy method, we read Dostoevsky at drama school & now the old dream became truth".
St. Petersburg's scenes were filmed first of all. The main episodes will be filmed in London, but the spirit of the great Neva-city corrected the conception alot. "The atmosphere here is darker then we supposed, it's closer to one in book, - Simm says. - This mood is in the movie, maybe even made it closer to the novel then we wanted in the beginning. I hope that the 'Human Taffic' fans, who are usually not interested in such adaptations, will watch "Crime & Punishment"
Simm is pleased that the filming began in St. Petersburg. Producer Snodin & Simm visited Dostoevsky Museum, Raskolnikov's & landlady's apartments, John spent lots of time in the room where Dostoevky died - grow accustomed with the role. "The fact that the tip of the Dostoevsy's pen was a little bit gnawed away, especially touched John", - Snodin says. And Simm ecstatically tells about the graffiti on the walls - he sees in them the symbol of the modern teens' interest in the old novel.
Why should another version of the "Crime & Punishment" be filmed - the question is quite rhetorical. But producer thinks that the new version is the golden mean - old story, which they tried to make more modern & comprehensible for the youth. The key is main character - Rodion. He's young, dispassionate, lonely and lost. He's the personification of the X generation. Maybe that's the reason why John Simm, mostly known for rash comedy "Human traffic", was chosen for the leading role. But in Russia John Simm behaved properly. On leaving he even revealed himself as the attentive boyfriend & bought his girlfriend (she was expecting baby) matreshka in The Beatles shape (if you don't know what's matreshka - check this).
Landlady wasn't murdered in St. Petersburg. At least in the movie. Interior shots will be done in London. As it happens in cinema, the order of scenes during the filming was inverted - the episode of Rascolnokov's stampede was shot long before Rodion killed the grannies. As the result the punishment ensued before the crime: John Simm rushed along the Petersburgian bridges so fast, that fell down and broke rib. Till the end of the filming poor guy was on the analgesics. - "They don't help much me, but my role. My Raskolnikov seems to suffer constantly".
08/11/2001, Mila Kudrjashova