Tolstoy at the Movies – The Last Station (2009 Film) | Episode 025

January 16, 2016

The Last Station is essentially concerned with the sunset chapter of Leo Tolstoy’s life (with far less drinking than witnessed in “Last Call” – a film about Fitzgerald’s final years). Decades after writing his masterworks, Tolstoy struggles with the prospect of leaving the copyright of his work to the Tolstoyan Movement at the insistence of its leader, Vladimir Chertkov, though to the absolute dismay of his wife, Sofya Tolstoy. Meanwhile, Valentin Fedorovich Bulgakov writes in his diary. The film features a stellar cast including Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, Paul Giamatti and James McAvoy.

The narrative takes some liberties in assuming the viewer has a working knowledge of Tolstoy (possibly even garnered from reading the film’s source material, The Last Station by Jay Parini) making it a bit inaccessible to the casual viewer. Bulgakov’s romantic subplot is a cinematic addition and not historically accurate. While beautifully shot and superbly acted, the film leaves something to be desired. It is somewhat disappointing this currently serves as the “Tolstoy Biopic.”

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