aka La tragedie imperiale
Article 3098 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-16-2009
Posting Date: 2-6-2010
Directed by Marcel L’Herbier
Featuring Harry Baur, Marcelle Chantal, Pierre Richard-Willm
What it is: Another stab at the story of Rasputin
This is the story of the rise and fall of the monk Rasputin, who had a hold over the family of the Czar Nicholas after miraculously curing his child.
My copy of this French version of the story of Rasputin is superbly dubbed… into Italian, that is. No, I don’t understand Italian any more than I do French, but you can still tell a good dubbing job from a bad one, even if you don’t know the language; for about the first twenty minutes, I wasn’t even aware it was dubbed, and the actors doing the dubbing give fine performances. In fact, I find it necessary to praise both Harry Baur and whoever dubbed him for this for their excellent portrayal of the title character. He’s presented as a master manipulator; I’m especially impressed on how effective he is at projecting humility and gentleness when his situation calls for it, and it’s extremely easy in this version to see why he is both revered and loathed by those around him. The scene where he cures the young prince is especially effective, even if I can’t understand a word of it. Fortunately, the fact that I was already familiar with the Rasputin story from several other versions helped me quite a bit with this one. The fantastic content is the usual for the story; though he doesn’t appear to use hypnotism, his healing abilities and his near indestructibility provide the fantastic content. In fact, it occurred to me that the slasher cliche of the monster who keeps rising from the dead after being killed may actually have its archetype in the Rasputin story. Incidentally, actor Harry Baur met a very tragic end; he went to Germany to make a movie, and was arrested afterwards and tortured to death by the Gestapo.