In 1910s Russia, Czar 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 Czar 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.
Brilliantly filmed, brilliantly told
The cinematography in this film was absolutely gorgeous with wonderful contrasting colors illustrating the richness of the Romanov life, the bleak coldness of the Siberian plains and the stark conditions of the Russian Empire. The music was hauntingly beautiful and complemented the film perfectly. When music suits a film, it IS noticeable!
And then there is the acting… Alan Rickman is sensational as Rasputin, portraying the moody and incoherent Rasputin with a fabulous chameleon-like zeal. Ian McKellum so perfectly portrays the Tsar, Nicholas II (or at least, as one would perceive Nicholas to be from history books) that it is plain spooky! Great Scacchi is also wonderful as the Tsarina.