Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Based on the story by Mikhail Bulgakov, this Italian film tells the story of Preobrazhensky (Max Von Sydow), a surgeon, who is a professor of medicine in Moscow. Because he occupies a "big" 5-room apartment, after the Russian revolution is thoroughly in place, he is visited by the housing committee, who feels that he should share this spaciousness with several others. In an experiment he implants a dog with the heart and brain of a tramp. The dog gradually transforms into a man (Cochi Ponzoni), but still has some doggy attitudes: for instance, in the original story he chooses to call himself Sharikov (in the film he is called Bobikov). Since Sharik is a common Russian dog name, just as "Rex" might be in the West, it is clear where the man-dog's sympathies lie. Bobikov becomes associated with the local Party officialdom, and begins to terrorize the professor and his assistant, Dr. Bormental (Mario Adorf). After he becomes a member of the housing committee, he wangles a room in the professor's apartment. And after becoming a member of a state committee to deal with stray animals, Bobikov refuses to allow dogs to be killed, only cats. Bulgakov's works were very hard to find in Russia. After perestroika people began reading them for the first time, and were amazed to discover how daringly he criticized the emerging Soviet system. This Italian production is perhaps not the most successful realization of the story: a Russian TV version was made in 1987.
against-the-system, brain, bureaucracy, government, professor, surgery, transplant