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Olivia de Havilland,
Dame May Whitty
As Europe looms on the edge of war in 1913, the family and members of the court of the Russian czar Nicholas come under the sway of a mysterious mystic named Rasputin. When Rasputin miraculously appears to cure the czar's son Alyosha of his hemophilia, the monk's reputation is cemented, particularly in the mind of the princess Natasha. Natasha's fiancé (and, later, husband) Prince Paul Chegodieff, however, suspects Rasputin is a charlatan who will cause the downfall of the royal family and perhaps of Russia itself. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dr. William Axt, MGM's musical director, brought together all the Greek and Russian orthodox church choirs in Los Angeles to sing at the celebration mass at the start of the movie. See more »
In the movie Rasputin is showed how he was giving the Tsar advices to go to WW1. However in real life he wasn't giving these advices during World War 1. See more »
I don't like him. I never shall.
You never tried to.
Oh, it isn't that. There's something, clammy about him. I can't explain it. I've had the same feeling, brushing against something on a dark night.
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Rasputin and the Empress shouldn't be used as a lesson of pre-Soviet Russia. Names have been changed (and that didn't prevent MGM from law suits) and a lot of the information we now know about this period of Russian history - was not known in 1932.
As other people have commented about this being the only film that Ethel, John, and Lionel Barrymore appeared together, this movie doesn't show why the Barrymores have the reputation that they have. John Barrymore's career started going downhill after the introduction of sound. Lionel Barrymore, wearing one of the phoniest fake beards, tries to capture the charisma and sense of control that Rasputin had over Czarina Alexandra and the Czarevitch. Ethel Barrymore gives an understated performance - too understated at times. When her only son seems to be close to possible death, she doesn't seem all that bothered.
C. Henry Gordon is a great Grand Duke Igor, Ralph Morgan is a convincing Czar Nicholas II, but they don't appear that frequently. Don't expect anyone to speak with a Russian accent or even attempting and accent.
Rasputin is one of the most interesting people in the world during the early 20th Century. He was also one of the most enigmatic and contradictory. A holy man who was accused of raping a nun, excessive drinking, and being power hungry. Barrymore's portrayal of Rasputin plays this up, plus making claims that he will be Russia. He seems almost like Charles Manson at times in the way he can make someone, especially the Czarevitch, behave like they are totally different people compared to the way they acted before meeting Rasputin.
It is best to watch this movie as just that - a fictional representation of various accounts of what happened in the royal court of Russia in its final days. The writers included Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht, Robert Sherwood, Mercedes de Acosta, and Lenore Coffee - some of the best writers of the period.
It's worth a view - don't expect historical accuracy, but it is an interesting film that tries to show a much different world than what Americans would have known.
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