Segments in this Video

Tolstoy Provocation (01:10)


Mass demonstrations broke out across Russia; citizens held vigil at the train station in Lev Tolstoy.

Most Famous 19th Century Russian (01:24)

See 1908 footage of Tolstoy. Tolstoy was one of the most challenging thinkers and moralists of his age, and a fierce government critic. 100 years after his death, the Russian state seemed to deliberately ignore Tolstoy.

Tolstoy Themes (01:44)

Alan Yentob rides through Russia's countryside, reflecting on the appearance of trains throughout Tolstoy's work. Hear an excerpt from Tolstoy's diary.

Yasnaya Polyana (02:41)

Tolstoy spent his childhood at the family estate. His youth was scarred by the death of his parents. Learn about the story Tolstoy's oldest brother invented about making old people happy.

Tolstoy's Introduction to Sex (01:40)

As a teenager living in Kazan, Tolstoy visited a brothel- an incident that strongly impacted him for the rest of his life.

Tolstoy's Education (02:19)

Tolstoy attended Kazan University. Hear excerpts from his diary. Tolstoy was an avid list-maker and goal-setter.

Depressive and Unfocused Youth (02:06)

Tolstoy inherited his portion of the family estate and returned home in 1847; hear a diary entry. He volunteered with the Chechnya Army, where boredom and isolation gave him the inspiration to write.

"Childhood" (01:18)

Tolstoy's first novel was an immediate hit; drawing on his early days at Yasnaya Polyana and the mother figure he missed.

Crimean War (02:57)

Tolstoy received a commission as an artillery officer. In 1854, he entered Sebastopol. His time on the front line was a defining experience; hear writing excerpts about the fourth bastion.

"The Sevastopol Sketches" (01:51)

Tolstoy published his first sketches from the Crimean War. The Russian censor deleted large sections of Tolstoy's second publication.

Saint Petersburg, Russia (01:51)

Tolstoy felt a new sense of purpose upon his arrival. Yentob visits rooms that became the forum for radical conversations. Nekrasov printed "The Sevastopol Sketches" in his magazine.

Tolstoy's Marriage (03:42)

In his early 30s, Tolstoy struggled with writing. In 1862, Tolstoy married Sophia Behrs; she was appalled by his past. Hear excerpts from his diaries and learn about their 47 year marriage.

"War and Peace" (02:24)

Over 25 years, Sophia Tolstoy birthed 13 babies; eight survived. An expert reflects on Tolstoy's happiness and his epic novel; hear an excerpt.

Battle of Borodino (03:01)

In 1812, Napoleon's army invaded Russia. Borodino continues to have historical, political, and emotional significance. "War and Peace" retells the battle; hear an excerpt.

Tolstoy's Pacifism (02:19)

Stalin's commissars used "War and Peace" to motivate the Red Army during WWII. Experts discuss the novel's moral message; hear an excerpt.

Tolstoy Questions Russian Society (02:39)

By the beginning of the 1870s, Tolstoy was Russia's greatest living writer. Despite good fortune, Tolstoy was ill at ease. In 1871, he bought land in Samara. Tolstoy was responsible for the region's famine awareness.

"Anna Karenina" (02:42)

Tolstoy's novel is an autobiographical work; hear an excerpt. An expert compares "Anna Karenina" to "War and Peace."

Tolstoy Gives Sophia a Voice (01:38)

"Anna Karenina" intertwines two troubled romances. The character Dolly Shcherbatskaya mirrors Tolstoy's wife; hear an excerpt.

Zheleznodorozhny, Moscow (02:08)

Yentob compares Tolstoy's depiction of the town in "Anna Karenina" to the current commuter suburb; hear an excerpt describing Anna's suicide.

Optina Pustyn Monastery (02:35)

At the age of 50, Tolstoy was increasingly preoccupied about the meaning of his existence. Experts discuss Tolstoy's spiritual quest.

Peasant Life (02:43)

Hear an excerpt from Sophia's diary. In the early 1880s, Tolstoy poured his energy into a series of religious and philosophical tracts. Tolstoy's charity evoked mistrust among peasants and infuriated Sophia.

"Resurrection" (03:09)

In 1883, Tolstoy met Vladimir Chertkov. In 1897, the men campaigned for the Doukhobors. The campaign led to Tolstoy's final novel which caused his excommunication; hear an excerpt.

Tolstoy Excommunicated (02:05)

In February, 1901, the Russian Orthodox Church declared Tolstoy excommunicated; his popularity grew. An expert remarks on Tolstoy and Sophia's troubled marriage.

Tolstoy's Marriage Hits a New Low (01:55)

In summer 1910, Chertkov, Sophia, and Tolstoy fought over who should have Tolstoy's diaries. In October, Tolstoy left; hear a diary excerpt.

Tolstoy in Astapovo (02:41)

At the age of 82, Tolstoy left home with Dr. Makovitsky. He became ill and stayed at the station master's home. Tolstoy died on November 7, 1910. Hear diary excerpts and see archival footage.

Revolution in the Air (02:39)

Thousands went on strike the day of Tolstoy's funeral. See archival footage and Tolstoy's burial site. Yentob reflects on Tolstoy's controversial theories.

Credits: Trouble with Tolstoy (00:40)

Credits: Trouble with Tolstoy

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Trouble with Tolstoy

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Not just the author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, two of the greatest novels ever written, Tolstoy was an enormously influential and prolific social, moral, and religious philosopher whose radical ideas still make him a highly controversial figure in Russia today. He espoused pacifism, an end to social hierarchy, vegetarianism, and rejected marriage. He also became a kind of fundamentalist christian and violently condemned the relationship between church and state. In 1901 he was ex-communicated from the church and attempts in 2000 to restore him were thwarted in the courtroom. In this film, Alan Yentob travels by train into the heart of Russia to hear what Russians talk about when they talk about Tolstoy. It’s a journey that offers a glimpse of the contemporary Russian soul.

Length: 61 minutes

Item#: BVL56769

ISBN: 978-0-81609-177-5

Copyright date: ©2011

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