“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognise truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying–to others and to yourself.”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), from The Brothers Karamazov
Trained as a sculptor as well as an animator, Piotr Dumala calls his innovative stop-motion technique in which an image is scratched into painted plaster, then painted over and the next image scratched on top “destructive animation”. He devised the method while studying art conservation at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts.
Crime and Punishment (Zbrodnia i Kara), Dumala’s expressionist half-hour long Dostoevsky adaptation, is a succession of shadowy, minimalist tableaux that emerge slowly from darkness and return to it. Stripping the Russian masterwork down to two scenes — the murder and Raskolnikov’s meeting of Sonia — Dumala interprets the novel’s themes with chiaroscuro intensity, choosing to highlight just a few strands of the story:
“It was not my aim to copy the book. I was really close to the book. I took one level of the book. It’s not possible to show everything from this book… This is about love and how obsession can destroy love. In our life we are under two opposite influences to be good or bad and to love or hate.”
In the worlds Dumala sketches, the lines between light and darkness are stark, but also shifting and mutable.
Read more about the background to Dumala and this film in Chris Robinson’s article for Animation World Magazine, HERE.