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Franklin J. Schaffner
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
This truly beautiful movie with considerable artistic value should not be watched for its historical accuracy or its lack of geographical precision. It is mainly a story about a marriage of two weak but lovable people who somehow should not have been where fate put them. You could call Nicholas and Alexandra an anti-monarchistic manifesto.
The script really is first rate, it doesn't matter that all the characters are far more English than Russian, what counts is the way a tragic situation unfolds in front of the viewers. For many the last czar probably was a monster as he ordered the death of hundreds of thousands. Yet watching the movie you want to believe that he is the victim of circumstances, far removed from everyday life and a husband and father who cares deeply and, in spite of all his outrageous decisions and non-decisions, wants to be good". Strange as it seems, but the intimate scenes between him and his wife are the highlights of the movie, as they really bring out the affection between two people who are attracted to each other although they are only too familiar with each other's flaws. It makes the tragic ending of the movie all the more sad.
I had the chance to visit Nicholas' palace in Yalta a few years back. It is full of family snapshots, as the czar was an avid photographer (and also movie maker). It is striking how modern those pictures are, how relaxed and middle class" the imperial family, always in bathing suits or some elegant leisure wear, appears. In a strange way the Russian emperor comes through as being much less crusty than his contemporaries on the throne of Britain, Germany or Austria-Hungary. It gives you the idea that he was a modern man. Strangely, whenever he himself is in the photos, he is never in the center of the picture but always somewhere in a marginal position, seeming to be either bemused or slightly embarrassed. What a sad career!
An interesting side-effect of the movie is the fact that it shows that at the outset of World War I the crowned heads of Europe, many of them related to each other and on relatively intimate terms, could have prevented the bloodshed. They failed colossally and thus sealed the fate of a continent that still tries to find unity and a common denominator.
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