Watch It { The Last Station }

Although I have every intention of reading Anna Karenina, and have heard bits and pieces about War and Peace, I didn't actually know all that much about Leo Tolstoy. So, being a fan of historical dramas myself, I was happy to hear that a great movie about this famous man had come out. Starring James McAvoy, Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren no less. I was sold.So I took a friend with me who's equally as fascinated by human relationships, history and Tolstoy and off we went.

The story was far from boring but the actors aided this as there was a thread of humour than ran through the movie. For example; Tolstoy's assistant, Valentin Bulgakov (played by McAvoy), sneezed every time he was nervous. This proved to be especially funny when a romance sparked between him and Masha, a girl on the Tolstoyan commune. McAvoy's portrayal of the innocent and passionate Tolstoy activist was touching and convincing, especially his admiration for Tolstoy. We see how he learns by the end of the movie that one cannot form solid, unmoving opinions and methodology because life and love don't follow a set plan. We need to enjoy the good things in life and sometimes take seemingly risky chances.

Tolstoy encouraged ideals of  simplicity, vegetarianism and chastity, and also for the people of Russia to rebel against corruption in the governing power. In the movie he says, "I'm not a very good Tolstoyan".

The love between Leo and his wife Sofya, is turbulent and exhausting and amazing. The main storyline is about Tolstoy's will, his indecision about whom to leave his writings and fortune to: The Russian people or his family. What results is conflict with his wife and drama involving his adviser, Vladimir Chertkov, who asks Valentin to 'keep a diary' and record everything he sees. In a comic twist, Sofya does the same thing and the drama increases as the adviser and wife fight for what they believe is right. Whilst Sofya was extremely melodramatic and hysterical at times, I empathized with her. She felt like Tolstoy's family was being left by the wayside and her place and influence in his life was completely disregarded. As she said to Valentin, "I copied out War and Peace 6 times".

It's based on a novel by Jay Parini and directed by Michael Hoffman. In the end we see how the love between the Tolstoy couple remains through all the angst, emotions and indecision. There was some lovely cinematography and Russia in all its cold and desolation was a great setting for it.I really enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone, Tolstoy fan or otherwise.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. Leo Tolstoy

Pic source: http://www.daemonsmovies.com/2009/09/30/the-last-station-movie-clip-with-james-mcavoy-helen-mirren/, http://absolutemichigan.com/blogs/tcfilmfestival/oscar-nominated-last-station-breathes-life-into-tolstoys-last-days/, http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/movies/04station.html