Agonia-Rasputin

If Rasputin hadn't existed, the movies would have had to invent him, and they often did. Klimov's legendary epic on the crazed (like a fox) Siberian “holy man” who held sway over the Empress and, through her, the Czar in the last days of the Romanov dynasty was much tampered with, and is here presented in a restored print. Anyone who has spent time on Telegraph Avenue will not be shocked by Alexei Petrenko's outré portrayal of the longhaired, stringy-bearded, liquor-soaked mystic who clearly reeks what he sows. The mystery is how he could get close enough to the royal family to have their ear, let alone their war plans in the pivotal year of 1916–17. Klimov manipulates fantastic set pieces and an extraordinary palette of colors to affect a kind of Symbolist treatment; he counters this with actual footage of a nation starved by war and a profligate monarchy. But, an ineffectual ruler led by religious fanatics into a national cataclysm-how could this be true?

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