Friday, 4 December 2015

Dolokov - dashing, destructive and deceiptful

Oh my oh my, some pictures of Tom playing Dolokov from Tolstoy's War and Peace were posted last night. I couldn't be bothered writing anything at the time, but they did make me want to watch the show. The costumes and set designs look so opulent and I'm looking forward to seeing the book reimagined and brought to the small screen.

I have never felt inclined to read the book, I thought it would be too daunting and a rather dry, austere read. When I heard that Tom was to portray Dolokov in the BBC adaptation I realised I would have to knuckle down and read it. Having heard that it would probably be on our screens in the Autumn and that it takes forever to read I started reading it in February, and I finished it in February! Now that is not some testament to me, it is a testament to Tolstoy for writing a book full of complex and enthralling characters. The tale he weaved could have been written this century, let alone when it was completed in 1869. As I read the book I literally covered its pages with post it notes; colourful reminders to go back to certain parts to re-read, or to find out more information about the themes which were written about.

I know that the principal reason for reading the book was to acquaint myself with the characters and storyline before watching the TV adaptation but instead I found myself marking all of the pages that Dolokov appeared in to see how much TV time Tom was likely to have! Yes I appear to be that shallow! When you look at all the markers once the book is finished you realise that Dolokov doesn't actually feature that much, but when he does he makes a startling impression on the reader. He is a multifaceted character and probably the most interesting in the book. The other characters become almost two dimensional when compared to him, and I can see why Tom was considered to portray the part, as he is adept at bringing these larger characters to life. I find it astonishing that when I see Tom in a role I don't see Tom I see the character. I'm sure I have probably written that before, but it is true, he can physically change his appearance like a chameleon so we forget the actor and concentrate on the part he is playing.

Dolokov is generally described as a psychopath. Is he? Absolutely! The definition of a psychopath is as follows:
a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.

Dolokov enjoys hurting people physically and mentally. He will be the person on the front row of the battlefield, leading the charge, slaying anyone unfortunate enough to be in his path. He is also the one who can not establish a true loving relationship with society, he treats friends with disdain, and finds comfort in the arms of married women who fall by the wayside as he passes from one victim to the next. He doesn't care about consequences, I doubt he even understands what they are! And just when you are not sure whether you should admire or detest this man, Tolstoy throws in a curve ball halfway through the tome, a scene involving Dolokov with his mother. He is barely recognisable as the egotistical, antisocial individual who has been riling everyone he has come into contact with.

The scene with his mother is the polar opposite to the man we have known throughout the book. He cares about someone other than himself, so the question has to be asked, who is the real Dolokov; the caring son, or the extreme exuberant society man?

If we peel back the veneer of a person we can see into their true self, it is hard to wear a veneer 24/7, and therefore the people most likely to see the real person is the family, those who are always around. It's hard to fake a smile for days on end, but in front of friends, for a few hours, it is a easy pretence to carry out. Some people can wear their heart on their sleeve and are happy to pour their heart out to a complete stranger, the rest of us will put on that stiff upper lip, we can be the life and soul of a party when all we really want to do is curl up and cry. Often even we don't really know who we are! So maybe Dolokov is less of a psychopath, maybe he is being fraudulent with his audience and misinterpreted by his extreme behaviour in society.

Ask me about any of the other characters in the book and I struggle to remember them in their entirety, it was nine months ago when I read the book, and I've read countless others since then, so I'd have to skim read the book to remember the traits of the other characters, but Dolokov, he stands out, he is memorable, and that's before we see him on TV!

I imagine it would be such an intriguing part to play, and one that you could have so much fun with. Just writing this page on the blog has made me want to pick up the book again and explore many of the sides of Dolokov again, he's captivating. I think credit really does need to be given to Tolstoy for writing an exceptional piece and gaining an insight into so many different facets in different people's personalities. Hmm once I've got through my pile of outstanding books, I'm definitely going to have to go back to this one again!

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