Monday, February 1, 2010

The Last Year of Tolstoy. . .

On the weekend I went to see the movie adaptation of Jay Parini's novel The Last Station, directed by Michael Hoffman and starring the amazing Helen Mirren, James McAvoy and Christopher Plummer who plays Leo Tolstoy in the last year of his life. At a time when Google and copyright are constantly in the news, and heartfelt tributes to J.D Salinger abound, this story about the battle of Sophia Tolstoy to keep posthumous control of her husband's copyright seemed very prescient. I'm a sucker for movies about writers and though the story was a bit slight and a tad too long, it's still a lovely film to look at and spend some time with. There are great performances from all the leads especially Mirren who gives the indomitable and feisty Sophia all the passion and determination she deserves. After all, this was a woman who not only bore Tolstoy thirteen children but handcopied War and Peace six times! You can see why she was so adamant about keeping the royalties for her family. Do make a point of staying seated through the credits as you'll see some archival footage of Tolstoy and other characters from the film.
Sophia was an avid photographer and if this film piques your interest in her work and life, do check out a collection of her photographs, diaries and writings as explored in Leah Bendavid-Val's book Song Without Words.

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