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The Countess Sofya, wife and muse to Leo Tolstoy, uses every trick of seduction on her husband's loyal disciple, whom she believes was the person responsible for Tolstoy signing a new will that leaves his work and property to the Russian people. Written by
Early in the film one of the characters refers to "flashbulbs," when there was no such thing in 1910 and in fact later in the film photographers are shown using trays of flash powder. See more »
"Your youth and your desire for happiness reminds me cruelly of my age and the impossibility of happiness for me." When I was courting Sofya, she was so young and pure, it seemed impossible that I'd ever have her. I didn't want to tell her how I felt and I wanted to tell her nothing else. So I wrote down a string of letters and asked her if she could decipher them. She looked completely confused, thinking it was a game or... I gave her one clue. The firs two Y's, I said, stand for "your youth" ...
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I was out of the country when this film came out and so have looked forward a long while to watching it on DVD. What a disappointment. It was nothing but cheap melodrama. I don't know if that's how Jay Parini wrote it or if it was more how Michael Hoffman directed it, but in any case, it too often devolved into sentimentality. I understand that the tensions between Tolstoy, his wife, and the Tolstoyans that the film focused on are a historical fact. They may have been factually, in some instances, also as histrionic as the film represents. I'm quite willing to believe too that the histrionics were as much or more on the side of Chertkov and the Tolstoyans as on Countess Tolstoy's. Still, the portrayal of Chertkov as villain was so melodramatic that it's not an exaggeration to say that we see him twirling his mustache. Tolstoy was many things, but one of them was was the master of the realistic detail. Sorry, none here.
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