And now for some good Russia news: Anton Chekhov’s short story The Black Monk has been adapted into a meditative new film that Montclair Film is screening at Cinema 505 June 7 & 8.
The original story from 1893 concerns a scholar named Andrey Vasil’yevich Kovrin who retreats to his childhood home in the country and begins to have dark visions of a monk who convinces Korvin he is a divine figure chosen to save mankind. The tensions between his hallucinations and the woman who tries to tether him to reality put a strain on his already-fragile body and spirit. (Read the Chekhov story here.)
The 2017 film, made by Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno, recasts the story in the modern era and finds a struggling filmmaker under the sway of the titular monk. The challenges to his work and sanity set him on a path that “uncovers the meaning of life and a lost love.”
Dr. Nadya Peterson, Head of the Russian and Slavic Studies Program in the Department of Classical and Oriental Studies at Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center, notes that this take on The Black Monk, “is certainly not a reverentially literal adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s eponymous story or a simplistic attempt at dressing Chekhov’s narrative in contemporary garb,” but rather “offers a thoughtful meditation on Chekhov’s inquiry into what constitutes human goodness, as well as on the limits of one man’s ability to affect universal change, in today’s world.”
The June 7 screening in Montclair will feature a live introduction by the filmmakers and a unique guide to the medical and psychological issues in The Black Monk: Dr. Anthony Tobia, who uses the film in a class he teaches at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, will host “a didactic on Twitter during this screening and then provide a brief review of psychosis as related to the film.”
The Black Monk is showing at Cinema505, Investors Bank Film & Media Center, 505 Bloomfield Avenue, June 7 & 8, 7pm. Get more information and tickets at http://montclairfilm.org/events/the-black-monk/