Wednesday, February 17, 2010



Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (September 1828 – November 1910) better known as Leo Tolstoy was a Russian writer widely regarded as among the greatest of novelists. His first book, War and Peace about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was published in 1869. His next novel, published in 1877, was Anna Karenina about a love affair set amidst Russian high society. Today they are regarded as masterpieces of historical fiction in terms of their scope, breadth and vivid depiction of 19th-century Russian life and attitudes.

Tolstoy had a profound influence on the development of anarchist thought. His closest friend and confidant, Vladimir Chertkov, formed a small group of followers of Tolstoy’s philosophical and religious views. This quasi-religious, quasi-political movement advocated celibacy, pacifism and a generalized love of mankind within a framework of agricultural socialism. Tolstoyans were Christian pacifists and practiced absolute nonresistance rather than any form of self-defense.

Paul Giamatti: Vladimir Chertkov, Tolstoy’s most trusted follower
James McAvoy: Tolstoyan Valentin Bulgakov
Kerry Condon: Masha, a devout Tolstoyan
Christopher Plummer: Count Leo Tolstoy
Helen Mirren: his wife, the Countess Sofya
Anne-Marie Duff: their daughter Sasha

Set in 1910, the film provides an insight into the final year in the life of the Russian writer and philosopher. Obviously geared to the discerning viewer this intelligent, adult piece of entertainment tells us a lot about Tolstoy that is not common knowledge.

The acting alone is worth the price of admission: Helen Mirren pulls off what I think is her best performance ever (and that is saying a lot) while Christopher Plummer shows what an accomplished actor he is.

for one scene of sexuality and nudity.

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