Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reel People: Helen Mirren is Sofya Tolstoy

The film is The Last Station written and directed by Michael Hoffman, based on the novel The Last Station by Jay Parini.

Sofya Tolstoy

Sofya Tolstoy (or Sophia Tolstaya) is famous primarily for her marriage to Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, author of such classics as Anna Karenina and War And Peace.

Sofya, the daughter of a physician was introduced to Leo in 1862, she was 18 and Leo Tolstoy was 34.

The couple became formerly engaged in September of that year, and married a week later in Moscow.

One of the stories surrounding their marriage is that Leo Tolstoy presented Sofya with his diaries on the night before their marriage, and these diaries contained the stories of Leo sexual exploits prior to their marriage.

When Sofya wasn't barring children and tending to the family (the couple had 13 children, 5 of which did not survive into adulthood), she was also helping Tolstoy with his literary work. This included copying manuscripts for her husband. It is said she copied War And Peace seven times beginning to end. She also helped document and keep Leo's diaries.

In the middle of her life, Sofya became interested in photography and took over a thousand pictures documenting the family and the decline of tsarist Russia.

After some years of strained relationships between the couple and arguments over Leo's desire to give away all their private property, Leo left Sofya abruptly in 1910 (Leo was 81, Sofya was 66). Leo left with one of their daughters and their family physician Duchan Makovicki, and died years later in railway station.

Sofya was kept from him in this time. She died in 1919.

The Last Station

Hoffman's film tells the story of the final days of Leo and Sofya's life based on the biographical novel.

Alongside Helen Mirren, Christopher Plumber plays the part of the age Leo Tolstoy. Paul Giamatti and James McAvoy are said to have strong roles in this film, as one of Leo's trusted followers and a private secretary of Leo respectively. McAvoy's wife Anne-Marie Duff plays the Tolstoy's daughter Sasha.

Will Helen Mirren's portrayal of Leo Tolstoy's wife earn her critical attention and even an Oscar nomination/win for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?


Andrew K. said...

I'm looking forward to this movie a whole lot [mostly for McAvoy and Mirren], but the whole cast is impressive. I'd love for her to get a nod for it.

RC said...

@ Andrew, I'd say Mirren has a fair chance.

Lorna said...

I've read War and Peace more times than Sofya copied it. I am, as a result, enamoured of all things Tolstoy. I am also enamoured of all things Mirren, so this should be a delight.