- Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg
- Andrei Kostrichkin, Antonina Yeremeyeva, Sergei Gerasimov
The fourth film production by the avant-garde company FEKS (Factory of the Eccentric Actor), The Overcoat was crafted as “a cinematographic novel in the manner of Gogol,” a conscious determination to break away from conventional literary adaptation. Excoriated at the time for taking too many liberties with classic literature, The Overcoat today stands as a superb piece of modernism. Andrei Kostrichkin gives a brilliant performance as the meek bureaucrat whose greatest ambition is for a new overcoat.
“The FEKS group [was] a radical arts collective led by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg (who co-directed this film). FEKS productions combined aspects of circus, music hall, puppet show and American silent comedy. With Gogol’s tragicomic story, The Overcoat, FEKS found fertile ground for experimentation. A minor clerk, Bashmachkin, replaces his threadbare overcoat with one made from the finest materials he can afford. Then one evening ruffians beat him up and steal his cherished new garment. The actors’ highly stylized gestures border on modern dance, and Bashmachkin’s world, especially as he begins to lose his grasp on reality, is powerfully rendered with looming shadows, oblique camera angles and eccentric architecture.” (The New York Film Festival, where the film was shown in October)