Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Director and lead actor Sergei Gerasimov has focused on the last days of Leo Tolstoy's life, and while he has a screen presence as Tolstoy, the three-hour length is a bit long for the amount of story there is to tell. At the end of his life, Tolstoy was taken with a rustic mysticism, and was even more dedicated to helping the peasants (he wrote a reading primer for them earlier). He spent much of his life maintaining a deep faith in God and advocating a resistance to "evil," the resistance of a pacifist since he promoted non-violence as his personal creed. In his last days, he and his wife have disagreements, and he finds an outlet for his intellectual ruminations with his own physician. Then he leaves home one night in the dead of winter, coming back many hours later with his physical and mental state in rapid deterioration. After three days he leaves again and goes to a railroad station where he dies in the home of the station master. His unusual behavior was motivated at least in part by his repulsion for his wealthy manor. Tolstoy's last days are covered in this film like a stack of separate note cards that are picked up and laid down one at a time, each examined for its own content. With more exploitation of the medium, Gerasimov could have achieved a fluid coordination, and a seamless tale.
death, doctor/nurse, evil, mysticism, pacifism, peasant