7.1/10
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Rasputin (1996)

HBO biopic about the infamous "mad monk" Rasputin from the court of Tsar Nicholas in Russia.

Director:

Uli Edel

Writer:

Peter Pruce
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Popularity
4,945 ( 131)

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Won 3 Golden Globes. Another 5 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Rickman ... Grigori Rasputin
Greta Scacchi ... Tsarina Alexandra
Ian McKellen ... Tsar Nicholas II
David Warner ... Dr. Botkin
John Wood ... Prime Minister Stolypin
James Frain ... Prince Felix Yusupov
Ian Hogg ... Purishkevich
Sheila Ruskin Sheila Ruskin ... Princess Marisa
Peter Jeffrey ... Bishop Hermogones
Freddie Findlay Freddie Findlay ... Alexei
Julian Curry Julian Curry ... Dr. Lazovert
László Áron László Áron ... Imperial Chauffeur
János Bata János Bata ... Detective #1
István Bicskei István Bicskei ... Derevenko
István Bubik István Bubik ... Landowner's son
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Storyline

In 1910s Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra find their son Alexei, sole heir to the Romanov dynasty, suffering from hemophilia and conventional medicine failing to help him. Alexandra looks into finding holistic treatment and finds Father Grigory Rasputin , a destitute monk who claims he had a vision from the Virgin Mary telling him that the Tsar needed him. Though Nicholas and the royal doctor are both skeptical of Rasputin's alleged healing abilities, young Alexei quickly bonds with the charlton/prophet, so he remains in the Royal Court. But Rasputin's constant boozing and womanizing angers the aristocracy and worsens the already unstable tensions between Nicholas and his subjects. With the seeds of revolution brewing, it becomes increasingly apparent that a bad end awaits for the entire Royal Family. Written by Ronos

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He Was A Magician. A Madman. A Savior And Seducer....


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Hungary

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 March 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny See more »

Filming Locations:

Budapest, Hungary See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed in only eight weeks. See more »

Goofs

When Rasputin arrives in St. Petersburg he is shown standing before the Winter Palace in Palace Square. The palace appears as it does today, painted green with white and gold accents. At the time of Rasputin's arrival in 1911 however, the palace was painted entirely in dull red. The palace's current color scheme was not applied until the 1930s. See more »

Quotes

Tsar Nicholas II: I spat at God once. Never again.
See more »

Connections

Version of J'ai tué Raspoutine (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Watchable Historic Drama
24 July 2009 | by James HitchcockSee all my reviews

Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin was a controversial figure, but there can be no doubt that he was also a remarkable one, even if one also regards him as a charlatan. For an uneducated peasant to have risen to be the close friend and confidant of one of the world's most powerful monarchs is no mean achievement. What, however, caused him to live in the popular imagination was his own bloody murder in 1916, followed by that of the Imperial Family two years later in the wake of the Russian Revolution. Had there been no Revolution, Rasputin would today be a minor figure, forgotten by all except specialists in the history of early twentieth century Russia.

It is hardly surprising that there have been a number of films about him, the first- presumably an anti-Russian propaganda film- being made in Germany only a year after his death. "Rasputin and the Empress" from 1932 is remembered today less by film buffs than by it is lawyers, as it gave rise to a lawsuit which led to one of the leading cases in English libel law. Hammer's famously inaccurate "Rasputin the Mad Monk" from 1966 is essentially a horror film dressed up as a historical drama. (The inaccuracy starts with the title; Rasputin, a self-proclaimed "holy man", was never a monk). He appears in "Nicholas and Alexandra" from 1971, but only in a supporting role; as its title suggests that film deals primarily with the doomed Imperial couple.

This film is probably the best filmed version of his life that I have seen, despite one or two historical inaccuracies. The main reason is the fine performance by Alan Rickman in the title role. The historical Rasputin seems to have had great charisma and a certain spirituality; his claim to possess abilities as a faith healer may have been genuine. Combined with these qualities, however, were his notorious moral weaknesses; he was both a drunkard and a womaniser. (His enemies seized gleefully on the similarity between his surname and the Russian adjective "rasputniy", meaning "debauched"). His influence over the Tsar was not always a beneficent one, although it is noteworthy that he opposed the fateful decision- to go to war with Germany in 1914- which was eventually to lead to the downfall of the Romanovs. Rickman, often good when portraying morally ambiguous figures like Severus Snape in the "Harry Potter" films, brings out all these contradictory sides of his character, giving us a portrait of a strange, driven individual, both mystic and fanatic, holy man and sinner.

Ian McKellen, whose portrayal owes something to Michael Jayston's in "Nicholas and Alexandra" is good as the Tsar, a hesitant, nervous autocrat, a kindly family man but despotic ruler. I did not, however, care for Greta Scacchi as Alexandra. (I much preferred Janet Suzman). Scacchi, previously better known for playing sexually provocative temptresses in films like "Heat and Dust", "White Mischief" and "Presumed Innocent", never seems either sufficiently regal or sufficiently commanding. Alexandra was the dominant partner in her marriage, and the influence of this German-born woman over the Tsar was resented by many Russians, especially after 1914). At least Scacchi gets to keep her clothes on in this film; it is a popularly held, although inaccurate, belief that Rasputin was (in the words of Boney M) "lover of the Russian Queen", but this canard is not repeated in the film.

As a whole, the film is not quite as good as "Nicholas and Alexandra", lacking the earlier film's epic grandeur and visual splendour. It never, however, sets out to be a major epic of that sort, having been made for television rather than the cinema screen. As a made-for-TV historical drama it is very watchable. 7/10


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