E. Gvozdeva

"What made me watch the entire movie was an understanding of that any educated person must know the novel The Idiot by Dostoyevsky" (DFG participant, student)

According to poll data, the 10-part movie version of the novel The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky that was recently shown on RTR television is an important cultural event in the life of the country. 34% of respondents said they were aware of the show, and 35% said they had heard something about it. Only 7% watched all 10 episodes, and 21% said they didn't see the entire series.

The high level of awareness about this series among people who didn't watch it is explained mainly by the wide advertising given in the media, TV, and on the metro:

"The movie was well covered...on TV, the radio" (DFG, Samara).

We should note that the viewers who watched The Idiot are quite different from the traditional audience for such series in Russia. The show's audience was largely composed of respondents with a higher education (23%), a good income (27%), and residents of big cities (23%). The share of those who watched all 10 episodes is also larger among these groups than average.

It is worth noting that the series showed only a very small "gender bias":

I didn't see it: 44% men, 40% women
I saw it all: 5% men, 9% women
I saw part of it: 19% men, 22% women

Those who watched the movie noted its artistic level, screenplay and directing. 7% mentioned it when answering the open-ended question: "Why did you watch the movie The Idiot, and did you find it to be interesting?":

"I enjoyed the actors"; "Inna Churikova and Vladimir Mashkov were superb"; "I wanted to see our great actors"; "The movie was well-made, this was successful work by the director".

Many discussion group participants said the presence of superstars increased the popularity of the series:

"I liked the company of actors – famous names were involved. It was interesting for me to see them in new roles" (DFG, Novosibirsk).

Most of those who watched the movie liked the actors Mironov, Inna Churikova, and Olga Budina, while Lidiya Velezheva's performance was estimated poorly.

Many discussion participants remembered the older screen version of The Idiot, but in general, they liked both versions. The Russia-wide poll showed that among those who watched all or some of The Idiot (28%), two-third (18%) said they liked it, and less than one-third (6%) disliked it:

"Speaking in general, I have only one critical comment concerning the character of Nastasya Filipovna. I liked the movie, I enjoyed it. Of course, I saw the old screen version too, and read the novel, but I watched this new movie with pleasure, too" (DFG, Samara).

Some viewers were attracted by the presentation of a classic Russian novel (4% of those surveyed mentioned this) – especially when Russian television is "occupied" by Western thrillers:

"The old movie was a real representation of this novel"; "The Idiot is the foundation of Russian literature"; "This movie is something different from the boring thrillers and detective stories on our TV".

As for general estimations of the series, 14% (almost half of those who watched it) thought it was "something special and original on Russian TV", while 9% thought it was quite ordinary.

Some respondents called the show just another "soap opera":

"I am sick and tired of these series my wife likes to watch. They all seem to have a similar subject. In my opinion, all soap operas and TV spectacles... are based on the same classic love story" (DFG, Novosibirsk).

39% of respondents said they have read the novel The Idiot, while 54% say they haven't. But many discussion group participants who read the novel in their school years said they don't actually remember its contents:

"I can't discuss this topic, because I haven't read the novel..." (DFG, Novosibirsk).

"I probably read it in my school years, but today I have no time" (DFG, Novosibirsk).

"I only followed the school curriculum..." (DFG, Novosibirsk).

Some respondents admitted that Dostoyevsky is hard to understand, or even uninteresting:

"I like classic books, but I have not read this one... I believe I will read it one day" (DFG, Moscow).

We should note that those who have not read The Idiot or don't remember it clearly were more likely to think this classic novel should be part of the school program, while those who have read it are more likely to think it is too difficult to study at school:

"If this novel is set in the school program, this makes sense. There is some usefulness in it. Although, when I was studying at school, I let The Idiot go by" (DFG, Moscow).

"I have not read The Idiot, but I think it should be included in the educational package" (DFG, Moscow).

"I have not read it either, but I agree that classic novels should be included for our children" (DFG, Moscow).

"I read it at the end of my school years... I think this novel is not for the young reader. It should be read by adults" (DFG, Samara).

"In my opinion, it is premature... In school, I didn't feel a desire to read classic writers... Such serious things are not for learning in school. Of course, it is necessary to introduce classic literature to pupils, but not such novels" (DFG, Samara).

According to many respondents, the screen version of The Idiot is quite close to the original, and watching it can serve as a substitute for reading the novel:

"What made me watch the entire movie was the understanding that any educated person must know the novel The Idiot by Dostoyevsky" (DFG, Novosibirsk).

"I haven't read the novel The Idiot, and this is the main reason I watched the movie. If I had read the book, it would not have been so interesting to watch the movie" (DFG, Novosibirsk).