The Overcoat opens with a peculiar collage of story elements borrowed by screenwriter Iurii Tynianov from two other novellas of Gogol’s Petersburg cycle: Nevskii Prospect and How Ivan Ivanovich quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich. The film’s second half faithfully follows Gogol’s celebrated tale about the meek bureaucrat Akakii Bashmachkin who falls in love with the dream of having a new overcoat that could protect him from the icy abysses of Petersburg. He subsequently is deprived of his beloved overcoat in a robbery, loses the remains of his dignity in a visit to a Very Important Person, dies and turns into a deranged vindictive ghost. —World Cinema Directory
Grigori Kozintsev belonged to an astonishing generation of Russian artists. Born in Kiev in 1905, Kozintsev studied at St. Petersberg’s famed Imperial Academy of Art where he began his lifelong engagement with theatre. The Russian Revolution and the avant-garde movements that followed in its wake would bear a great impact on his imagination. To this period belongs the futurist poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksandr Blok, the Formalist criticism of Viktor Shklovsky and Roman Jakobson and the dramaturgical innovations of Vsevolod Meyerhold on the Russian stage.
Along with Leonid Trauberg, Grigori Kozintsev formed the Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS) at St. Petersburg in 1921. FEKS had a pivotal influence on Soviet cinema, especially when Trauberg and Kozintsev put their artistic theories into practice through the films made with the dramaturgical collective. At the age of 19, Kozintsev (co-directing with Trauberg) made his directorial debut with The Adventures of Oktyabrina… read more
Leonid Trauberg was one of the founders of the notorious Factory of Eccentric Actors in St. Petersburg in 1921. With G. Kozintsev they joined their careers for decades, working on and off as a collaborative duo. Their names are often mentioned in connection with Formalists, together they attempted to create the Russian equivalent of Futurism, Surrealism or Dada. Among their collaborative work the most famous became their last silent film “The New Babylon / Novyi Vavilon” (1929), written and directed by both of them, inspired by the writings of Emile Zola. Their other common works include titles: “Shinel” (1926), “Bratishka” (1927), “Odna” (1931), “Vozvrashcheniye Maksima” (1937), “Vyborgskaya Storona” (1939). Shortly after the government banned their last collaborative work, post-war drama “Plain People / Prostyye lyudi” (1946), they split up and went their separate ways. Trauberg for few more years continued with directing and made 3 more films (Soldiers Were Going / Shli soldaty… read more