||Alan Rickman, Greta Scacchi,
Ian McKellen, David Warner, John Wood
|Approximate Running Time:
Plot: For 300 years, the Romanov Family have been a dynasty
ruling Russia. At the beginning of the 20th century, the dynasty
is troubled by the changing political ideals of the common Russian.
The country teeters on the brink of a revolution as the politicians
and the dynasty battle for control, with religious factions lending
valuable and strategic support. Into this melee, the Siberian
peasant-monk, Rasputin (Alan Rickman), who is believed to have
special powers, is let into the Tsarina's inner circle to treat
her son and ailing heir to the throne, Alexei. However, despite
being a devoutly religious man, Rasputin's debaucherous and hedonistic
life away from the palace brings the Romanov's under intense criticism
and their ability to rule Russia is questioned.
Comment: This movie would be a fairy tale if it wasn't
tragically based on fact! Peter Pruce has written a wondrous tale,
magical in its delivery and tragic as it unfolds. Admittedly,
certain events in Rasputin's life are glossed over with one sentence
in places, but for the most part, this is a fairly accurate representation
of the downfall of the Romanov family and the man that helped
to bring them down.
The cinematographer, Ragályi, has made this a beautiful film
to watch. Never is the scenery more cold than in the bleak snow-covered
plains outside the city, and never is power more grand and glowing
than inside the richly decorated palace. In this setting, Edel
extracts virtuoso performances from his talented cast. Ian McKellen
is amazing as the last Tsar of Russia. For anyone who has read
anything about Tsar Nicholas II, you will be blown away by the
similarity between McKellen's portrayal and the historically recorded
Tsar himself. Greta Scacchi is luminous as the Tsarina, devoted
wife of Nicholas and equally devoted follower of Rasputin.
Rickman performance as the enigmatic Rasputin is joy to watch
in itself. Rasputin led an unconventional life for a man of God,
and Rickman takes us through the many levels of the semi-literate
peasant-monk, from soothsayer, healer, religious man, hedonistic
lout and drunkard. Alan Rickman's depiction of Rasputin was so
compelling, he went on to win several awards
for it, including an Emmy, Golden Globe and British Academy for
The sheer magic of this film should bewitch anyone who watches
it, be they history buffs or not. The story of Rasputin is so
much more than the the lines immortalized in the Boney M song,
'Rasputin,' and this film should be compulsory viewing
for anyone who does not know anything about this amazing period.
Although the film may not be completely accurate, it does inspire
one to delve into the records to find out more about this staggeringly
huge and devastating time in Russian history.
(For further information about Rasputin, read Edvard Radzinsky's
"Rasputin" (2000). This magnificent biography
compiles all the historical documentation surrounding Rasputin
and includes new information found in a mysterious 'missing file'
which was unearthed at a Sotheby's auction about the time the
film was being made.)