14 June 2013 2:04 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Trying to humanise pigheaded royals running full-tilt towards death is a tough call. Luckily the other side weren't much better

Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)

Director: Franklin J Schaffner

Entertainment grade: C+

History grade: B+

Nicholas II Romanov became tsar of Russia in 1894. His reign was beset by social and political unrest, culminating in the Russian revolution of 1917.

People

The film begins in 1904, with the tsarina, Alexandra (Janet Suzman), finally giving birth to an heir, Alexei. "I thought we'd go on having girls forever," she admits to the tsar (Michael Jayston, a dead ringer for the real thing). They have already produced four little grand duchesses. Meanwhile, at a political meeting, stony-faced Lenin (Michael Bryant) and exasperated Trotsky (Brian Cox) meet a bubbly young Borat lookalike calling himself Stalin (James Hazeldine). The film has elided a couple of events here: the Bolshevik-Menshevik split of 1903, in Belgium, and the All-Russian Bolshevik Conference of 1905, in Finland, »

- Alex von Tunzelmann

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