Briefly Noted: The Last Station

In 1908, Leo Tolstoy wrote a letter titled  A Letter to a Hinduin Free Hindustan and a young Mohandas Gandhi reprinted this letter in his South African paper. Russia’s most prominent Christian pacifist had a profound influence on Gandhiji’s non-violent philosophy. In Russia, young men and women lived in Tolstoyan farms practicing celibacy and vegetarianism. He was considered a saint.
The final days of Tolstoy’s life was not peaceful; he was at war with his wife of 48 years. These final days are the subject of the 2009 biopic The Last Station. The Tolstoyans, led by Vladimir Chertkov, wanted to put all his writings in the public domain, a move opposed by Sofiya Tolstoy  concerned about what will happen to her.

In despair, Tolstoy left their country home, Yasnaya Polyana, on Oct. 28, 1910, taking to the road in the middle of the night, putting 48 years of marriage behind him. He died soon thereafter in a remote railway station, with his wife outside begging to be let in. She was turned away by Vladimir Chertkov, Tolstoy’s disciple and close friend, who suggested that any glimpse of her would hasten her husband’s end. Chertkov relented only when Tolstoy was in a coma, at the point of death.[The Tolstoys’ War]

Helen Mirren (Sofiya), Christopher Plummer (Tolstoy) and Paul Giamatti (Chertkov) have put such soul into the characters which makes this a recommended movie.