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Farewell to Russia

FarewellToRussia movie-poster
Historical novel
USA, Russia
120 min.
movie co-production project
A film based on a book by Russian Princess Lydia Volkonsky and Prince Oleg Volkonsky
Synopsis (Book)
The first two parts are an eyewitness account of events from 1905 to 1946. With the exception of perhaps the first two chapters, in which life in pre-revolutionary Russia is described, the narrative moves fast against a broad panorama of historical events: World War I, the Russian Revolution, the Russian Civil War, the Soviet-Polish War of 1919-20 and World War II. Nothing is fictionalized. The events seen through the eyes of the author Lydia Volkonsky, an art-student caught in the turmoil of war and revolution in her youth, range from Western Russia, her homeland, to Kiev, Petrograd, Warsaw, Southern Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Italy.
Lydia Volkonsky's son Prince Oleg Volkonsky, the author of the third part, describes the family’s life after leaving Italy shortly after World War Two, to start a new life in England, and the later emigration to the USA. The epilogue now covers events  inside today's post-Communist Russia up to the year 2008, thus spanning an entire century of history.
Princess Lydia Volkonsky never set herself the goal of commenting on the momentous historical events surrounding her, she merely describes them. And this is the main strength of her book. She acts as an eye-witness and not as an historian. Her aim was to create a work of literature. Her style is that of a bye-gone era - the style of the great Russian classics of the 19th century.
Her son Oleg, on the other hand, comments on histrical events extensively and brings them "up to date". The aim of the third part is to set these events into a historical and political context. Considerable attention is given to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in 1917 (during his life Prince Oleg Volkonsky has known three members of the Romanov family closely) to the subsequent Bolshevik revolution and the Civil War, World War II, the Cold War, and post-Soviet Russia’s situation in the world today.
All three parts are illustrated by family photographs as well as by drawings and paintings by its two authors including a self-portrait by Lydia Volkonsky.
About the authors of the book
The movie is based on an exceptional book, which is a work of non-fiction but reads more like a historical novel. The first two parts are the autobiography of Princess Lydia Volkonsky, the third part is continued by her son Prince Oleg Volkonsky.
The Volkonsky family, one of Russia's most illustrious, has been the subject of many historical works as well as of fictional literature in Russia. For example, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, hero of Tolstoy's "War and Peace", although a fictionalized character, is modeled on a member of the Volkonsky family (Tolstoy's mother was a Princess Volkonsky). Princess Volkonsky's book "Farewell to Russia" continues the tradition.
Oleg Volkonsky graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1964 and has a life-long career in radio broadcasting to the Soviet Union through Radio Liberty in Munich, the B.B.C. in London, and the Voice of America in Washington, D.C. His father, Prince Valentine Volkonsky, was a graduate of the last class of cadets of the Russian Imperial Naval Academy during World War One. He ended his life as an instructor for the British Royal Navy.
Oleg Volkonsky after many years of broadcasting to Russia while it was beyond the "Iron Curtain" now broadacsts worldwide in English for the new "Voice of Russia" from Moscow. Fate, or the will of God, sometimes turns incredible cycles.