Russia, 1916. Be it by craft or madness, Rasputin exercises power over the indecisive Nicholas, and the religious Czarina worships the Siberian as God. He manipulates the Czar in his relations with the Duma and influences the choice of a new premier. Rasputin assaults a baroness; her husband is jailed for defending her, and she must offer sexual favors to Rasputin to save her husband. The Czar finally orders Rasputin from St. Petersburg, but somehow he enters the palace and, in a disheveled trance, convinces the Czar to make a disastrous change in war strategy. A cadre of nobles take matters into their own hands and arrange a last dinner party for the interloping monk. Written by
The episode where Rasputin was lured into a trap by clergymen didn't take place in 1916 but 5 years previously. It didn't go exactly as shown in the picture (no singing 'female lure' has ever been mentioned), though accounts differ as to what actually happened during the encounter. See more »
AGONY was a huge disappointment. The subject matter is one of the most fascinating episodes of the 20th century, the collapse of Russia's Romanov dynasty amid world war and revolution, and in particular the pernicious influence of the peasant "holy man" Rasputin over the royal family...so why is this such a dull, turgid movie? In an interview on the DVD, director Klimov makes a big deal about breaking Soviet stereotype by showing Czar Nicholas as a flawed human being (rather than a complete monster), and also about Soviet limitations on showing graphic sex (therefore Rasputin's notorious debauchery is only barely hinted at). So Soviet censorship is at least partly to blame, but so is Klimov's ineptitude. Instead of spectacle or realism, AGONY uses clumsy and dated propaganda techniques to convey its historical context. It delivers not a shred of psychological insight into its subjects, nor even the satisfactions of simple sensationalism. I still await the film that will give me some understanding of the phenomenon of Rasputin.
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