Rasputin

by Marianne Wi

I so want to burst into song, did  Boney M not tell us everything we ever wanted to know about Grigorij Efimovic Rasputin:

There lived a certain man in Russia long ago
He was big and strong, in his eyes a flaming glow
Most people looked at him with terror and with fear
But to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear
He could preach the bible like a preacher
Full of ecstacy and fire
But he also was the kind of teacher
Women would desire

RA RA RASPUTIN
Lover of the Russian queen
They put some poison into his wine
RA RA RASPUTIN
Russia’s greatest love machine
He drank it all and he said “I feel fine”

Well perhaps not, herewith some bullet points and historical facts about the real deal:

Rasputin was born in January 1869 to poor parents in Siberia. He had a sister who drowned and a brother who died from pneumonia after falling into a river, not much luck with water in that family. Rasputin spent some time in a monastery and was surrounded by rumors of supernatural powers and a claim to have had a vision of the Virgin Mary. Joining the sect Flagellants, whose followers sought out physical exhaustion, led to rumors that religious and sexual ecstasy were combined in these rituals. Rasputin married in 1889 and had 2 children, followed by an illegitimate child in 1900, the least of our moral worries to do with this gentleman. He was a man of many names The Black Monk and the Mad Monk to name a few. He travelled to Greece and Jerusalem ending up in St.Peterburg in1903 where he became known as a holy man and a healer. Rasputin became the healer for Tsarevich Alesei’s a descended of the British Queen Victoria, the boy suffered from Haemophilia and was said to improve every time he met Rasputin, what better way to gain access to the rich and powerful.

Rasputin was surrounded by controversy too, he was accused of raping a nun and generally believed that sin and repentance were interdependent and necessary for salvation. Rasputin was deeply opposed to war, during World War 1, his increasing drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and willingness to accept backhanders set the scene for his demise as he made numerous enemies. Rasputin’s influence over Tsaritsa Alexandra was overwhelming and he was her close confidant in the absence of Nicolas the 2nd, who was at the front with his troops, Rasputin lived with many different women and his reputation was at an all time low after the war .

The end of a legend 29 December 1916 @ 47 : Rasputin did not go quietly, there were two known attempts on his life, the first by a prostitute he had misused in the past, she knifed him in the stomach however after surgical intervention he survived. The second attempt was to succeed although it was an unusual killing.  A group of Russian Nobility invited him for poisoned (Cyanide) cake and tea, he proclaimed later ” I feel fine” the process was too slow (might not have worked as Cyanide evaporates during baking) so they shot him in the head, later after finding him still alive he was systematically beat him with a bladed object and also sexually assaulted, his penis having been cut of and preserved elsewhere, they finally shot him 3 times, wrapped him in a carpet and threw him in the river (like his brother and sister before him, water was a bad omen). When found a few days later he was shown to have water in his lungs and was found with his hands outstretched as if he had tried to claw his way out from under the ice………… a tough cookie, I think you will agree.

Watch the trailer for Rasputin here ……

Cast : Francesco Cabras, Daniele Savoca, Franco Nero, Marco Sabatino, Luciano Rosso, Attilio Cottura,Valerio Portale, Diana Dell’Erba, Angelo Santamaria, Elenora Mercatali, Anna Cuculo, Ottaviano Blitch, Anara Kasteyeva, Elena Presti, Davide Ranieri.


Director : Louis Nero is a Turinese born in 1976, he was educated at D.A.M.S. University and is now a permanent member of the prestigious David of Donatello jury. Rasputin his latest film is out this week in Italy and it is worth noting that Nero is the director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer and editor of the film, this is very much a man who has not heard of the concept ” Sharing is Caring”  royalty and fame is down to Louis Nero alone.

Rasputin is a very theatrical production, I had a continued sensation of sitting in a beautiful theatre rather than a cinema. Nero’s play with split screens , did on occasion get a bit out of control, five screens shot in one really did put Linda La Plant to shame, the facing in and out of moving images too was over the top although very well edited, I felt as if I was in the middle of a Dogma experience shot beautifully in colour.

Synopsis : The film recounts the final hours of Rasputin’s life in St. Petersburg back in December 1916. The film kicks off with Rasputin’s violent murder and we re-live his last few days based on historical facts, with conspiracies perpetrated against him by the Russian Nobility.

I know this film is on the International/Italian Film festival trail and I am pleased for it BUT I cannot wait to see the next Rasputin, currently shooting in Arkhangelsk a French-Russian production. We have the wonderful talented French actor Gérard Depardieu and a number of Russian stars such as Konstantin Khabensky, Ksenia Rappoport, Philip Yankovsky heading this production, it is rumored that the French actress Fanny Ardant will play Alexandra, the Tsarina, I for one cannot wait for that production to hit our screens in 2012.


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