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Dostoevsky's Travels (1991)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Gottorf Castle, 1990s Berlin: Dimitri Dostoevsky, a great grandson of Fyodor Dostoevsky, gives a speech at the inauguration of the Dostoevsky Society. Dimitri thinks to himself that if not for his great grandfather, he would never have gone abroad. Everybody speaks about Germany's fascination with Dostoevsky's writing.

Dimitri is in a taxi with a member of the Dostoevsky Society. The man says that in order to understand the Soviet people, one needs to read Dostoevsky. Bored, Dimitri watches a car transporter passing by and dreams of buying a Mercedes. Dimitri visits a Berlin second-hand car market.

Another meeting of the Dostoevsky Society: a woman says that in Germany most people know Dostoevsky's work because of the film Anna Karenina. Dimitri, bored, thinks of how to get more money for his car. In the evening, Dimitri sits on a toilet seat smoking and drinking beer. He looks through German-language books about Dostoevsky to construct his lecture about the writer. Next day in the car dealer's office, Dimitri refuses a good deal on an Audi and insists on a Mercedes.

A panel discussion on Dostoevsky: Dimitri answers questions about his great grandfather via an interpreter. The audience appears bored. In the evening, Dimitri notes how much money he has collected so far. He worries that he has not given enough lectures to be able to afford the Mercedes.

Dimitri looks for a place to stay another night in Berlin. On the advice of the car dealer's wife, he spends the night at the Olympia Park hotel, where another Russian, Father Timofey, is also staying. After a conversation with Father Timofey, Dimitri decides to go back to drawing, something he used to do in military school. He draws his great grandfather's favourite subjects and places, such as the Cologne Cathedral. The National Theatre, Mannheim: Crime and Punishment is being performed, and Dimitri sells his drawings outside, for 150 marks each.

Baden Baden, Soviet Consulate, 10 November: at a concert in celebration of the Russian Revolution for the benefit of German industrialists, Dimitri meets Mr Jurginson, who is interested in his drawings. The same night, at the casino, Dimitri and Mr Jurginson talk about Dostoevsky's roulette system and his novel The Gambler.

Next morning, Dimitri is swimming in a hotel pool when he is given a message: he has been offered a Ferrari for a week - this is how famous he has become. He drives to visit Baron Dostoevsky in Lichtenstein, where he is introduced to Prince Yurevsky. The three men talk about Russian politics.

London: The War and Peace Ball at the Russian Consulate. Dimitri meets Count Nikolai Tolstoy. Later that evening, Dimitri meets a film producer, who gets him involved in an upcoming film. Toronto Film Festival: Dimitri appears in a sequence from The Possessed (based on The Brothers Karamazov).

Back at Berlin's second hand car market, Dimitri finally buys his Mercedes. He returns to Russia.

Postscript: after crossing the Russian border, Dimitri was attacked by bandits. He managed to escape in his car but fell asleep at the wheel. The car ended up in a ditch and Dimitri has been repairing it ever since.