Matilda: what was all the fuss about?

  • Rusia
  • 0
  • 10036 Views
  • 30 October 2017

So there I was, opening night of the most controversial film of the year. I paid my 370 rubles for a ticket to see the much anticipated Matilda: secret of the Romanov house. As I walked in, I noticed two police officers; not the norm for any Russian cinema, and they were also there when I left. It turns out nobody wanted a scene caused so it was just a precaution.

As the theatre filled up, I noticed something about the audience. Only two couples, many people were there alone. Two in the front row were especially loud throughout, often giggling and unable to believe their eyes. Yet, no protesters or hard line Orthodox Christian groups boycotting the event .

What the non-Russian readers should understand is that in 2000, the last Tsar and his family were cannonised as Saints by the Orthodox Church. As such, to many in Russia, Nikolai is therefore untouchable and void of criticism.

This film about the last Tsar’s affair with a Polish ballet dancer upset many of the country’s Christian elite, notably, Duma MP Natalia Poklonskaya of Crimea, keen to protect his martyrdom status. But, when the film had ended it was hard for me to see what could have been so offensive. There were two soft sex scenes, a selection of historical inaccuracies and the exaggerated nature of this affair (and muddled storyline) was quite evident. This is hardly enough to make any reasonable person’s blood boil, however.

The timing of this film is important, though. This is the centenary of the Russian revolution, which saw he and his family murdered by the Bolsheviks. This segment of Russia’s history is a rather uncomfortable one because it is associated with negative memories and connotations. Chaos, Civil War and a party seizing power without popular support.

The film begins with what kids these days refer to as a ‘nipple slip’, as Kschesinskaya’s dress (intentionally) comes undone during a show at the Marinskiy Theatre, St. Petersburg, where the royal family is present. This would be the start of the love affair.

In the next scene, Nikolai is found writing to his beloved Alex (Alexandra his future wife) whilst his father, Aleksandr III makes clear his dislike for her. Then, to make the story more connected to reality, the audience is treated to the famous train crash where Aleksandr saves his family by lifting up the roof of the train carriage on his shoulders. This was not the last time we viewed recreations of historical events, as we also witnessed the Tsar’s coronation and the incident at Khodinskoe Pole, to name but two.

A common theme throughout is Nikolai’s parents, I suppose, distaste for Alexandra and disapproval of his love life in general. It is in the historical record that neither was ever that keen on the German princess. In fact, one scene in particular shows the difficult relationship Alexandra had with Nicolas’ mother whilst she is having an outfit properly fitted.

Coupled with this is Nikolai’s journey to the throne, which is an important part of the film’s plot. In the backdrop, an ailing Aleksandr passes and Nikolai is being groomed to take over. However, he makes it very clear that he is not ready and does not want to become ruler of all the Russia’s. In that sense, one might argue that his affair with Kschesinskaya was a much-needed distraction for him.

When not with Nikolai, Kschesinskaya spends the duration of the film preparing for a show in Moscow at the Bolshoi, and has a particularly hard time of it. Her affair with the Tsarevich and fellow ballerina’s affair put her extremely out of favour with the powers that be. There are many attempts to keep her away from the Tsarevich and his fiancé, who actively plots to make Kschesinskaya disappear. However, she made it to the show and on stage, much to the displeasure all but Nikolai.

The film’s ending also raises questions. The message is that Nikolai chose the throne over love, something not at all supported in the historical documents. In fact, Alex and Nicky (as they called each other) were besotted with each other until their last days. Their letters and diary entries show much love, affection and devotion to one another. Nikolai, for all of his political faults, was a good family man and is how many in Russia would prefer him to be remembered.

Be that as it may, Kschesinskaya finds her way into the church where the coronation is taking place. She runs up to the balcony with the choir, locks the door to halt those pursuing her and yells out ‘Nicky!’ The soon to be Tsar faints, and goes into a daze. When he comes around, Nikolai stands up and places the crown on his head. The affair is over.

Certainly, Matilda is a must watch, yet, it is hardly Oscar nomination worthy. The costumes and sets are definitely praise worthy, but it is not, as Shaun Walker of The Guardian wrote  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/25/arrests-moscow-russia-premiere-matilda-film-tsar-nicholas-ii-affair , a standard costume drama. Then again, his depiction of Russia to Guardian readers is hardly accurate to begin with.

The film got me wondering how a British audience might react to a film about a beloved British monarch’s love affair. While Christian groups would likely not set cars on fire or demand it be banned, one can be sure that some would find it distasteful, especially in the current political climate and if it were a high profile film.

Matilda showed a great deal of maturity in modern Russia. The authorities refused to ban the movie (rightly so) and civil society were keen to see it. The muddled picture and historical inaccuracies aside, the film has shown Russians are capable of handling controversial material and accepting its leadership are only human. To paraphrase Culture Minister Vladimir Medinskiy, Russia followed the law and not people’s personal preferences.

It is encouraging to see so many Russians attending the film and critiquing it. Over the weekend, Matilda raked in $3.9 million across Russia. As we left the cinema, the reaction from most in the audience was along the lines of ‘meh’. It was good and we got our money’s worth but it was also nothing special and could have been much better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Russian Security Cannot be Anti-Russian

  • 0
  • 610 Views
  • 15 March 2022

To reflect on the period where the world now finds itself, we propose the term “cold hot war”, as this period has significant differences from the classical notion of the “Cold war”. Within the framework of the old Cold War, military confrontation between the two superpowers was always indirect. “Proxy” conflicts only emerged between their respective allies, when there was an intersection of interests in various regions of the world, but these never happened direc

citește mai mult

Russian Leadership Changes: How it was, is and how it might be

  • 0
  • 998 Views
  • 3 January 2022

Now that 2022 is finally here, it means Russia’s next presidential election is just two years away. The way has been paved for Vladimir Putin to run again if he chooses. The will he/won’t he? question is a favourite of pundits as is speculation of a potential or likely successor. Russia’s next leader will be immensely consequential, as will the time when he or she takes over.

It’s certainly possible that by the end of t

citește mai mult

Researchers from Six Countries Discussed the Challenges for International Psychological Security in the Context of the Use of Artificial Intelligence

  • 0
  • 23343 Views
  • 23 November 2020

On 12 November 2020, a panel discussion "Artificial Intelligence and International Psychological Security: Theoretical and Practical Implications" was held at St. Petersburg State University as part of the international conference "Strategic Communications in Business and Politics" (STRATCOM-2020).

The discussion was moderated by Konstantin Pantserev – DSc in Political Sciences, Professor of the St. Petersburg State University,

citește mai mult

Conferință despre Transnistria, 4 – 5 Martie 2022

  • 0
  • 812 Views
  • 8 March 2022

Împlinirea a 30 de ani de la unul dintre cele mai dificile momente ale istoriei estului Europei a constituit temeiul unei conferințe științifice de prestigiu organizate în colaborare de către instituții de învățâmânt și cercetare din Chișinău, Târgoviște și București.

Conferința cu titlul „Războiul de pe Nistru din 1992: 30 de ani după...” a fost organizată de către Asociația Națională a Tinerilor Istorici din Moldova (ANTIM),

citește mai mult

Forcing the Correct Choice: Deterring Right-Wing Radicals and Preventing Threats to Nuclear Facilities in Ukraine

  • 0
  • 652 Views
  • 7 March 2022

According to official statements by the Russian Federation, its army’s special military operation in Ukraine aims to both “demilitarize” and “denazify” the country. This operation is being carried out in a large state with a developed nuclear power industry, fairly powerful army (the largest in Europe outside of Russia and Turkey) and high firepower (22nd place in the world according to 2022 Military Strength Ranking (Global Firepower, 2022)). One of the primary o

citește mai mult

Azebaijan, cheia geostrategică a Asiei Centrale

  • 0
  • 20660 Views
  • 13 February 2018

După destrămarea URSS, Azerbaijanul a fost statul ex-sovietic care alături de    republicile Baltice a avut o dezvoltare constantă și durabilă. Desigur, aici pot fi adresate unele critici regimului de la Baku cu privire la democrație, care în opinia multor analiști este doar mimată la Baku. Însă faptul adevărat este că acest stat a reușit să își gestioneze eficient resursele de care dispune pentru a deveni o societate prosperă. I se atribuie Azerbaijanului etichet

citește mai mult

The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence Was Discussed at the XIII International IT-Forum

  • 0
  • 611 Views
  • 15 June 2022

On the 7-9th of June 2022, the 13th International IT-Forum was held in Khanty-Mansiysk. The Forum attracted more than 5,000 participants from around the world, especially those from BRICS and SCO states.

A range of international conferences we

citește mai mult

U.S.: On the Way to Right-Wing Coup and Civil War?

  • 0
  • 693 Views
  • 29 April 2022

Today, amid heightening negative trends in the world economy, social and property polarization, the deepest crisis in international relations and the insufficient effectiveness of socially-oriented programs of national development, the prerequisites for coup d’état and civil war in various countries arise. For example, Africa reached last year an annual record (4) in the number of successful military coups i

citește mai mult

Young researchers from four countries discussed the threats of malicious use of artificial intelligence for international information and psychological security

  • 0
  • 556 Views
  • 18 February 2022

The expansion of the artificial intelligence (AI) usage has been causing deep concerns in experts’ circles for a long time. However, it is getting out AI of human control that tends to be regarded and securitized as the main threat. Such a scenario, nonetheless, does not take into account the fact the capabilities of AI can be deliberately used for criminal purposes.

Researchers from different countries are vigorously studying

citește mai mult