Friday, April 4, 2008

From Trapp to Tolstoy. . .

Having tackled two mammoth versions of War and Peace this year (the book and the 7 1/2 hour movie), I've taken an interest in all things Tolstoy. So I'm quite excited about this movie in the works - an adaptation of Jay Parini's 1990 The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year (which we'll be reissuing in the fall). And how is this for casting? Christopher Plummer will be playing Tolstoy opposite Helen Mirren as his wife Sophia. James McAvoy and Paul Giamatti will also star. The movie is in part about the troubled marriage of the Tolstoys. Sophia seems to have been a talented woman on her own account - she bore Leo 13 children, spent a long time copying out his manuscripts and also became a photographer. Last fall, National Geographic published a fascinating collection of some of her photos accompanied by excerpts from her diaries. Check out Song Without Words: The Photographs & Diaries of Countess Sophia Tolstoy by Leah Bendavid-Val for a real glimpse into pre-revolution Russian life.

Speaking of Christopher Plummer, I've been taking him to bed every night (and I certainly wouldn't be the first!) We're publishing his autobiography, In Spite of Myself in October and I am absolutely loving what I've read so far. Can't blog too much about it now, but suffice it to say, the guy can write! I was completely captivated by his descriptions of an imaginative childhood in Montreal, and the chapter on the making of The Sound of Music is absolutely wonderful. This is also a terrific book for any theater lover - Plummer has worked with viritually everyone! I saw him playing Macbeth with Glenda Jackson at the O'Keefe Center when I was a teenager, was completely mesmerized, and have been a fan ever since. I even have a selection of his speeches from Henry V on my iPOD and I'll definately be getting to Stratford this summer to see him in Shaw's Caeser and Cleopatra. A Canadian who has certainly lived life to the highest lees . Honestly, this is going to be THE autobiography to read this fall.

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