Leo Tolstoy As Seen by BBC

Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1887) by Ilya Efimovich Repin (1844-1930)

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The BBC channel has started working on a documentary film about Leo Tolstoy. The movie is timed for the 100th anniversary of the great Russian writer’s death.

The memorable date has encouraged filmmakers in many countries to prepare films about Tolstoy’s life and creative activity. One of the most outstanding is Michael Hoffman’s The Last Station, describing the last days of the writer’s life, his departure from home and death at the Astapovo railway station. Another interesting documentary project, titled “Leo Tolstoy: Genius Alive” and initiated by Andrei Deryabin from Russia, contains all the surviving archive shots that captured the author of “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina”.

Producer of the BBC project Tom Birchenough is convinced that the interest in Leo Tolstoy’s personality abroad will never fade away, since his work has always been acquainting people with the realities of Russian life and culture. The attention of the British is drawn not only to the writer himself - they also plan to find answers to a number of questions concerning present-day Russia, in particular, what kind of ideas suggested by Tolstoy are still relevant in our country and to what extent the young generation is familiar with his work.

The documentary film depicts well-known journalist Alan Yentob, presently the BBC creative director, travelling across Russian cities and towns, associated with the name of Leo Tolstoy. The film crew has already visited Moscow, the writer’s estate of Yasnaya Polyana, Samara and Kazan. The Tartar capital had a special place in Tolstoy’s life - his sister, all his brothers and the future writer himself studied here, his great-grandfather served in the Kazan Kremlin, and his grandfather, the former Governor of Kazan, was buried in one of the city’s monasteries. The Director of the Tolstoy Museum in Kazan, Svetlana Konovalova, was glad to assist the guests from London.

"Kazan has by no means remained the same provincial town Leo Tolstoy once lived in. Trying to understand the links between the city of the 19th and 21st centuries, the British were most deeply impressed by the Kazan University’s unparalleled architecture, its premises and the library the writer loved to visit. The spirit of those days is still present here, which made the film director and his crew come here thrice, at different parts of the day."

The next stop of filmmakers from Great Britain will be in the Caucasus, where Leo Tolstoy established himself as a writer and wrote his first trilogy “Childhood, Boyhood, Youth”. The film is due to hit the British screens in December this year.

Source: The Voice of Russia
27 September, 2010