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Catherine Faris King
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The tragic story of Nicholas II, the last Czar of Russia, set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution. It is an inside look into the private lives of Nicholas and his wife Alexandra, their daughters, their only son and the painful secret about their son and heir apparent which bound the Imperial Couple to the mystical Rasputin, and the eventual execution of the entire family. Written by
Gailene Va. Holley <email@example.com>
The near-ending scene where the family is laughing about unflattering photos taken of them and reading letters from their relatives, friends and teachers has Nicholas saying "in a 'month or two'" as when "Mama" (Nicholas'; the Queen Mother) would be off to England in. Actually, Marie Feodorovna didn't go to England until 1919, the year after the family's July 1918 deaths. See more »
"Nicholas and Alexandra" is one of the last of the grand, sweeping epics that dominated the box office in the 50's and 60's. With the new wave of young, reckless directors who took to the scene in the 70's this kind of filmmaking seemed strangely dated. Ironically enough it kind of mimics the fate of the Romanov family, holding on to ideals that can no longer protect them. The genre, which had started with aplomb with movies like "Gone With The Wind" didn't draw the numbers it used to, and after seeing this movie I can't help but think of what a shame that is.
The movie is off to a slow start, and doesn't really grab the viewer until after the introduction of Rasputin. From there on in it's pure cinematic joy to witness the fate of the Tzar and his family unravel.
The actors do a tremendous job. It's obvious that the producers wanted their actors to look as much like their characters as possible, and while this doesn't necessarily strengthen the movie by itself it clearly gives it a stronger feel of authenticity. Furthermore they perfectly embody their flawed characters. The czar, beautifully played by Michael Jayston is a warm, caring man who unfortunately is totally unfit to be a czar. He is out of touch with his people, and feebly clings to his autocratic power. Jayston manages to portray an almost absurd certainty in his divine right, and ability to rule while at the same time exposing his uncertainty and fright. Janet Suzman is equally impressive as the loving, but domineering Alexandra.
The look and feel of the movie is also fantastic. The jaw-dropping visuals of Russia perfectly accommodates the story, and the music is wonderful all the way through. The pace is slow, and it's easy to see why critics who had just witnessed the exhilarating pace of movies like "A Clockwork Orange" or "The French Connection". But this was how these kinds of movies were made, and "Nicholas and Alexandra" does not shame the genre. It's actually a beautiful end to a spectacular genre which is well worth a look for anyone with a soft spot for David Lean-like movies.
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