Thursday, August 26, 2010
The Last Station
I finally had a chance to watch The Last Station and have to say enjoyed it, largely because of Helen Mirren's marvelous performance as Sofiya. She really held this movie together, as it threatened to devolve into a rather tedious melodrama at times. Christopher Plummer gave Count Tolstoy the weight he deserves on screen, and the rapport between he and his wife was very good, particularly the wonderful bedroom scene.
I was a bit bemused by the portrayal of Vladimir Chertkov. He comes across as such a cad. From what I've read, Chertkov was completely devoted to Tolstoy's legacy, and wasn't trying to steal the estate out from under Sofiya, as was implied in this movie. He organized a new publishing house, Intermediary, in 1885 at Tolstoy's initiative, which published Chekhov, Leskov, Ertel, as well as Tolstoy. Here is Chertkov with Tolstoy,
and a book Chertkov published of his Last Days with Tolstoy. Chertkov came from a wealthy background himself and was able to fund many of his efforts, including the publishing house.
I can understand Sofiya's worries over the estate within the context of this film, and certainly Helen Mirren made you greatly empathize with her character, but one has to wonder how much of this story was actually the case, even if Parini apparently pored over reams of journals, memoirs and reminiscences. You can see Parini casting himself as Valentin Bulgakov, taking the side of Sofiya in the disputes which followed. Anyway, it was great fun and one has to expect a few artistic liberties along the way.