And in the book everything was different! What’s wrong with the new film adaptation of the novel “Gloomy River”

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We compare the text of Vyacheslav Shishkov and the first episodes of the new series.

In press releases, Channel One honestly warns: yes, this is a film adaptation (and emphasizes: “the first full”), but not a literal reading of Vyacheslav Shishkov’s novel. At the presentation of the series for the press, the head of the channel and co-producer of “Gloomy Rivers” Constantine Ernst reminded that this novel is not from the category of great, but it is the same suitable for great films: the original source is not canonized as, say, “War and Peace”, and does not put pressure on the authors with their authority. And the director Yuri Moroz clarified what exactly was done: melodramatic and mystical lines were strengthened, and the motivation of the main character Prokhor Gromov was radically changed so that it would be understandable to the modern mass audience.

A new film adaptation of the novel “Gloomy River”. Photo: frame from the movie

Prohor is no longer the one

On March 9, the channel aired the first two series out of sixteen, which allows us to draw the first conclusions. And the main one is this: in the series we see a completely different Prokhor Gromov than he is presented in the text.

In the series we see a completely different Prokhor Gromov than he is presented in the text. Photo: frame from the movie

In the book. Vyacheslav Shishkov’s Forgiveness at the beginning of the novel is a young man who is just turning into a man: at the time of the trip on the Ugryum River he was only 18. “Prokhor did not know women yet, but the feeling of maturing courage often bothered him,” the hero at the time of meeting Tanya – a liberated girl in the village, where travelers made the first stop. Prokhor immediately falls in love, draws Tanya from memory, there is no question of any sex. He does not remember any Anfisa: according to the text at that time he has no relationship with her. This Gromov Jr. is still quite timid: he respects his father, works with pleasure on the farm and goes on a journey with joy, because his father punished – there is no conflict with him yet. He is curious: when he finds out about the burial place of the shaman Sinilga, he goes to examine him, but runs away in horror when something scares him.

At the beginning of the novel, Shishkovsky Prokhor is full of vague hopes and aspirations, his heart is open to let the whole world in. Yes, he wants gold, but just as much as he wants love. This is the whole point: the further development of the plot shows how this young man, gifted with the talent of an industrialist and businessman, turns into a greedy beast who destroys everything around him, and eventually himself. The fact that Prokhor left the gymnasium for fear of the police – that he stabbed a man with a penknife in a fight – speaks of what might happen to him in the future, perhaps. After the incident, he almost cries and runs for comfort to Ibrahim.

In the series, Prokhor is quite a stale and by no means an 18-year-old man. Photo: frame from the movie

In the new film adaptation. What do we see in the series? Prokhor is a very old and not at all 18-year-old man; he hangs out with the girls in the barns, dares his father, runs away to the city, because in the village he is sick, where he also launches a knife and accidentally meets Anfisa. Peter sends him to explore the taiga, not wanting to compete with Anfisa: the acute phase of the conflict between father and son is evident. This Prokhor is already full of evil energy, he is not afraid of any Sinilga, but wants her strength and shouts from the rock: “Disperse, taiga! Prokhor Gromov has come! ” Of course, in the book the hero will also be just like that, but much later.

In the series, Prokhor is already full of evil energy, he is not afraid of any Sinilga, but wants her strength. Photo: frame from the movie

And now, of course, the mystery of how Prohor in the series will develop further, if one of the main ideas of the novel from the narrative is cleared. But another has been cleared up: the idea of ​​class struggle, of a revolutionary beginning – as a divine alternative to all this thunder; how far all this will go only on melodramatism and mysticism, whether history as a whole will not be vulgarized. And won’t the question remain unanswered: why should we watch this today? After all, the historical drama is good, which is the second, most important layer – about today.

Modest birthdays and ridiculous wolf

Several nuances were revealed in the first series. For example, in one episode in the yard it is day, but in the forest it is already night. Photo: frame from the movie

There were a few nuances in the first series – quite small, but hardly relevant in the project, which worked on for seven years and which now claims the title of unprecedented TV event. Here is one of them: the old man Gromov dies, his son Peter Gromov hurries to dig up the loot – he pulls on his boots. The hut is light, but for some reason kerosene is burning. Peter comes out of the hut – and surely, in the yard day, but in the woods it’s night, and he digs in the light of kerosene. The treasure was buried near the house – it would not be dark. And if he did, then what the hell is Peter returning home with the cherished chest again in broad daylight?

In the series, a wolf approaches digging Peter in the woods. There is no such plot in the book. Photo: frame from the movie

In the scene in the woods, an encounter with a wild beast, which is not in the book, is discouraging. A wolf approaches the digging Peter, but Gromov is not only not afraid of him or even takes up his rifle, but chases him away with a fierce look: the beast presses its tail and runs away. The semantic content of the mise-en-scène is clear: Peter Gromov himself is no longer quite human – he is a beast in front of his eyes, but… why does it look so anecdotal and parody?

Yuri Moroz’s Tanya is also different. Photo: frame from the movie

Yuri Moroz’s Tanya is also different: she is even more liberated and, seeing three strangers floating on the boat for the first time, swims up to them and grabs the side, trying to seduce Prokhorov. Okay, who knows how liberated the Siberians were at the time, but in the entourage involved, the logical continuation of the scene would be, sorry, a vigorous quad under the Christmas trees, otherwise the expression of the heroine was wasted. And if it was Homer’s allusion to the journey of Odysseus and the sirens he met, it, alas, turned into another anecdote.

On Maria Kirillovna’s birthday, Gromova’s father and son for the first time begin to openly compete for Anfisa. Photo: frame from the movie

The scene of Maria Kirillovna’s birthday celebration, where Gromova’s father and son for the first time begin to openly compete for Anfisa, surprises with modesty: something is standing here and there on the table, and that’s it. And Shishkov paints birthdays several pages in a row, naming dishes in detail; the celebration itself took place first in the drawing-room, and then in the dining-room, where the guests were invited by those who were already gluttonous, so that some went out to induce vomiting and to eat again.

The rich merchant lost the remnants of his conscience. Photo: frame from the movie

A picture of the world of an insolent merchant who suddenly became rich and lost the remnants of his conscience, this feast of his with a claim to the scope of the ancient Roman emperor, a feast as the beginning of the end – all this faded in the series. Vyacheslav Shishkov really can not be squeezed between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, but his text is extremely dramatic, rich – what can you say about the series.

Prokhor and Ibrahim reach the Ugryum River. Photo: frame from the movie

“Not a river, but a river, you will throw a stone,” Prokhor and Ibrahim, who had not yet been devoted to them, remarked so disappointedly when they reached the Ugryum River, and they were told: . Most of the series is still ahead, so there is still a chance that the series will be something bigger than another, expensive, but ordinary melodrama with elements of mysticism.


Sunset on the Ugryum River. Photo: Eugene SAZONOV

Komsomolskaya Pravda also has a film about the legendary Ugryum River

Many waterways are fighting for the honor of being called the prototype of the river from the famous book by Vyacheslav Shishkov. However, Vitim, which flows through Transbaikalia, Buryatia and the Irkutsk region, is out of competition. Anyone who has at least once floated on its unpredictable waters and read the novel will confirm: here it is – the same female Gloomy River with a harsh male character…

Autumn morning on Vitim. Photo: Eugene SAZONOV

In the fall of 2014, the expedition of the Communist Party and the Russian Geographical Society traveled almost a thousand kilometers along the Vitim. The result was a film “Vitim: a journey along the Ugryum River” (you can see it at the link below) and the book of the same name, the electronic version of which can be found at

“Gloomy River”. Drama based on the novel by Vyacheslav Shishkov.
Director: Yuri Moroz.
Screenplay: Maria Saprykina.
Producers: Denis Evstigneev, Konstantin Ernst.
Cast: Alexander Gorbatov, Alexander Baluyev, Julia Peresild, Sofia Ernst, Natalia Surkova, Roman Madyanov, Alexander Yatsenko, Julia Khlynina and others.
Where to watch: The first channel, from March 9, also on

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