Dostoevsky’s Travels (1991) | Kinoteka 2015

April 17th, 2015
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

With: Dimitri Dostoevsky

52min   Doc   UK

In this brilliant made for TV documentary, Dmitri, great-grandson of the novelist, follows in the steps of the great writer, travelling from St Petersburg, where he worked as a tram driver, to Berlin, Baden-Baden and London. Unlike his great grandfather, he is not interested in literature at all, but is more keen on materialism, trying to buy a Mercedes, to show off at home. Homeless at first, he manages to raise finance after meetings with various business men, who also attempt to cash in on his name. After finally achieving his dream purchase it emerges, in the final credits, that his second hand car is now in the garage for repairs, after he crashed his brand new one in St. Petersburg. Pawlikowski’s clever editing and drôle take reveal Dmitri to be an opportunist of the worst order, not only trying to trade off a famous name, but also willing to sponsor a casino in Russia, owned by a profit-hungry German. While in the company of one of last surviving aristocrats, keen to return to the throne, Dmitri changes political colour again, declaring his love for the monarchy. DOSTOEVSKY’S TRAVELS is a rather sad film about a man who tries to sell himself to everybody on the back of a famous family name, but it also reveals Pawlikowski to have a rare style in documentary exposé. AS


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