A new web site dedicated to the last Russian emperor and his family was officially launched today in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg. The comprehensive Russian language site was developed to mark the centenary of the death of Nicholas II and his family in 2018. The project was initiated by the Ekaterinburg diocese, and created with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Cyril.
The site chronicles the lives of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their five children - Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Tsesarevich Alexei.
A separate section is devoted to each family member, which includes a biography, photographs, diary entries, correspondence, memories, videos, and more. According to the projects manager Bishop of Sredneuralsky Evgeny, the site will be updated with additional information on a regular basis.
Bishop Evgeny notes: "This is not a finished project which we have initiated, but rather the presentation of a project that will continue to grow, and will be completed on 19 May, 2018, when the 150th anniversary of the birth of the last Russian emperor will be celebrated.
An information and educational campaign dedicated to the family of Emperor Nicholas II was launched over the weekend in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg.
The campaign includes a series of videos depicting the relationship of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, which will be shown on the city’s trams and buses.
Also, 50 billboards with quotations from the private diaries and letters of the emperor and his wife will be displayed on billboards around the city. In addition, the videos, Internet banners, and web site Tsarskaya-family.rf will be made available online.
The Press Service of the Ekaterinburg Diocese issued the following statement:
“Today, the public will learn truthful information about the life of the holy Royal Passion-Bearers. How they lived, their relationships within the family and with their subjects, why they are considered the ideal family, relations of the Imperial couple, how they preserved their love over decades, and more. This information will be devoted to the information and educational campaign, which starts on the day of the Protection of the Mother of God with the blessing of Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill.”
On 14th October, a new web site Tsarskaya-family.rf will be launched. The site "will demonstrate an honest view of members of the Imperial family as a whole, and each of its members." The diocese also noted that this new information resource will provide the truth about the Emperor Nicholas "as opposed to the distorted information, currently spreading in society." The site will be updated regularly until 19th May 2018 - the day which marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nicholas II.
Angela Tambova, official representative of the Ekaterinburg diocese, noted that the project is not connected with the release of Alexei Uchitel's controversial film Matilda, which is scheduled for release on 26th October.
Correspondence of Nicholas II and Alexandra Appears on 300 Billboards Throughout Moscow Topic: Nicholas II
This article was originally published by Pravoslavie.ru on 28 September 2017
Billboards with quotations from the correspondence between the holy Royal Martyrs Nicholas II and Alexandra have appeared throughout Moscow, the Synodal Department for the Cooperation of the Church with Society and the Media stated on Tuesday, reports Interfax-Religion.
The quotes from the empress’ personal diary are part of the Church project “Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna: Words of Love,” dedicated to love, marriage, and family happiness. The project is aimed at the affirmation of family values in Russian society, and to give the people truthful information on the life of the royal family, as opposed to the historical fiction being propagated by the soon-to-be-released film “Mathilde.”
“For more than 100 years, the personal life of the family of the last Romanovs have remained a target for myths and speculations. Meanwhile, the real story of their married life, based on faith, love, and mutual respect can serve as an example of family relations for our contemporaries,” the synodal department noted.
“My heartfelt prayers follow you day and night. May the Lord keep you, protect you, lead and guide you, and lead you home healthy and strong,” one of the billboards reads in part.
The Union of Orthodox Journalists reports that more than 300 billboards have been set up throughout the capital.
It is believed that the project “Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna: Words of love” will become with time an example of an affordable and positive way to reveal unknown and forgotten pages of Russian history.
Mathilde: Time to Re-evaluate the History of the Royal Family Topic: Nicholas II
This article was originally published by Pravoslavie.ru on 4 October 2017
One month remains until director Alexei Uchitel’s film Mathilde is released on the screen. Independent Gazette has appealed to the chairman of the Patriarchal Cultural Council Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Egorievsk with a request to express his personal point of view, and if possible, the official position of the Russian Orthodox Church on the conflict around the film Mathilde.
Before speaking about a film that has not even hit the screens yet, but has already evoked quite a storm, and, honestly, a film that everyone is fed up with—Mathilde, I would like to recall that at the beginning of the present year there was the unprecedentedly wide showing of another film, also dedicated to a real historical figure, who was also the head of the Russian state and also canonized as a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In contrast to Mathilde, "Viking" thundered throughout the country but did not cause any mass protests. There were no demonstrations, no demands for a ban (except for a few isolated letters), and that despite the fact that the main hero—Great Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich—was shown in the film in a period of his life before he adopted Christianity as a ferocious beast: He kills his blood brother Yaropolk, rapes Princess Rogneda of Polotsk in front of her parents, then kills his father and erects pagan temples and brings human sacrifices to the idols. And with all of this, this masterfully shot naturalistic film didn’t evoke any protests in the whole country or in the Church community. But this supposedly “innocent” film about the youthful romance of the heir to the Russian throne and a ballerina of the imperial theaters has been responded to in society with 100,000 petitions demanding to ban the film, and demonstrations, and legal claims. I’m not talking about extremist excesses—that’s more likely a medical or criminal topic.
So what is going on? The answer seems quite clear. In the case of “Viking,” the filmmakers presented a very bitter, but true history on the screen. Ancient chronicles and hagiographies narrate this ugly truth to us. They convey to posterity a truly terrifying image of the Great Prince Vladimir before his Baptism, and only then do they speak about his astounding transformation from a pagan monster into the merciful, wise, and powerful Vladimir the Beautiful Sun, who our people have greatly venerated and loved for more than 1,000 years.
In the case of Mathilde, unfortunately, everything is quite different. The story and screenplay of the film is built upon a lie. Many who have seen the widely-released trailer on the internet, or who, like me, have read the script, felt this untruth particularly acutely. Why? Because, of course, for many people, the last Russian emperor is a holy passion-bearer, and because no matter what the various attitudes may be towards Nicholas II, it’s impossible not to admit that over the past 100 years such a torrent of defamation, slander, and filth was poured out upon him, such as none among our compatriots have ever been honored with. Today, when objective information about our history is accessible, the typical stereotypes about the last tsar and his family have for many fallen apart. For some, soviet clichés are replaced by sometimes excessive idealization; but the majority of sober-minded people reexamine their values by an objective assessment based on genuine historical facts.
And now, on the anniversary of the Russian revolution there appears a film with, again, an obvious lie. And the fabrication concerns, alas, the personal life of Nicholas II and his relationship with his wife, the empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Even in soviet times no self-respecting researcher subjected this theme to falsifications in favor of an ideological state of affairs. Today, in this given question we see, perhaps, the only case of complete agreement among historians of diametrically opposed convictions, schools, and orientations: All agree that the relationship between Nicholas Alexandrovich and Alexandra Feodorovna was filled with the highest love, absolute fidelity, responsibility, tenderness, and care. No one or anything, nor any of the most terrible, inconceivable trials which befell this family could shake their striking depth and strength of feeling.
But what about Mathilde Kschessinskaya? More often than not, critics of the film are accused of denying the very fact of the romantic relations of the heir and the young dancer. In fact, this is a distortion. No one denies that that there really were such relations.
The heir, who was then twenty-two years old, met the eighteen-year-old Mathilde Felixovna Kschessinskaya in a very difficult period in his life: The girl whom he had wholeheartedly fallen in love with forever at first sight, the Hesse-Darmstadt princess Alice (who became his wife a few years later—the empress Alexandra Feodorovna), had recently rejected him, as she found it impossible to change her religion—to convert from Protestantism to Orthodoxy, the latter of which she had only the vaguest idea.
Meanwhile, it [conversion to Orthodoxy] was obligatory for the future tsarina according to Russian imperial law; besides, his father, Alexander III, strongly opposed his son’s choice. The emperor had different views on the heir’s marriage.
And so, rejected by his beloved and having received a strict admonition from his father on the impossibility of his desired marriage, Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich allowed himself to fall in love with this talented ballerina. What kind of relationship did they have? Some historians say that these young people were very close. Others claim their connection was purely platonic. Whatever it was, in the end, is none of our business. They communicated from 1892 to 1894. In the spring of 1894 Princess Alice finally agreed to become Nicholas’ wife; Alexander III gave his agreement to their wedding. Nicholas Alexandrovich was immensely happy. Breaking up with Mathilde went without drama and tears: He asked her forgiveness and promised to help her with everything. They decided to always remain sincere friends, speaking with one another on friendly terms… But communication by correspondence. Their communication was broken off once and for all in the same year, 1894, that he became engaged, and then was the wedding of Nicholas and Alexandra.
Nicholas considered it his duty to tell his fiancée about Mathilde. This is what Alix wrote to her fiancé after this difficult confession: “I love you even more now that you have told me this story. Your trust touches me very deeply… Will I be worthy of it?”
The period from 1894—when princess Alice was in Russia, converted to Orthodoxy, got married to Nicholas II, and became the empress of all Russia—to 1896, where the film ends, was the most serene and happy in the life of the young married couple.
But what happens in this film presented to the public as nothing more or less than “the year’s major historical blockbuster?” This whole time in the film Nicholas is thrown about in sufferings, hysteria, and in intimate scenes from Mathilde to Alexandra, from Alexandra to Mathilde…
And they supplement this “historical canvas” with such dramatic findings, as, for example, the scene where Alexandra Feodorovna, as if some dark fury, goes after Mathilde with a sharp knife to shed her blood; or the merry image of Alexander III, of an emperor of unusual nobility in life, foreign to every vulgarity, who the filmmakers have declare that he “was the only Romanov not to live with the ballerinas…”
I will not multiply the bitter examples. Overall, the story amounts to Nicholas, of course, loving the democratic, brave, free-thinking Mathilde, but “for the sake of duty and the throne” marrying Alexandra, and forcing his heart to love her. In general, it’s like the film adaptation of the famous song “Kings Can Do Anything,” except marry for love.
As has become known, the script of the film was given to two famous historians for review a few months ago. Their brief summary is given here by permission.
“On the script of the feature film Mathilde”
(Script author: Alexander Terekhov)
To seriously disassemble this piece is not necessary, and even impossible. The film’s story has no relation to the historical events related in it, except that only the names of the characters are true, and the heir-tsarevich had a romance with Mathilde Kschessinkaya. The rest is a fabrication in the worst taste. Already the first scene evokes a smile and strong bewilderment. Mathilde Kschessinkaya did not run up to the choir of the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin during the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, and did not yell, “Nicky, Nicky!” and the emperor himself did not pass out. It’s all a fabrication of the script writer, calling to mind lines from the famous Ilf and Petrov novel: “The countess is running to the pond with a strange face.” Only with Ilf and Petrov it’s grotesque and ironic, but in the script it’s a harsh “truth” of the lives of the characters, as it is appears to the author.
The script is teeming with fabrications in the worst taste, having no relation either to real events or even to the feeling of the characters. One such ridiculous example is when Nicholas’ father, Emperor Alexander III, chooses a mistress for his son from among the ballerinas of the Mariinsky Theatre. Do we have to explain that such vulgarity could be born only in the mind of someone with no clue about the reality of the relationships in the royal family, and in the court environment?
The emperor Nicholas II and empress Alexandra Feodorovna were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as passion-bearers; but holiness is not sterility. There were different situations in their lives (for example, their relationship with Rasputin), and their activities are variously evaluated by historians. But one thing they did not have—vulgarity and filth. But it is precisely vulgarity and filth of the lowest order that the script writer gives for historical truth.
President of the History Dept. of Moscow State University
Professor, Academic of the Russian Academy of Sciences S. P. Karlov
Head of the 19th-Early 20th Century Russian History Department
of Moscow State University
Professor S. V. Mironenko
Chairman of the Patriarchal Cultural Council Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Egorievsk
The director of the film Alexei Uchitel has repeatedly stated that he had and has no intention of offending the memory of Nicholas II. But what is presented in the plot of the film is nothing more than artistic imagination, which no historical canvas can bypass. There is no reason not to believe Alexei Efimovich. I only venture to recall the saying of the seventh century ascetic St. Isaac of Syria: “Moderation makes all things beautiful. That which is considered beautiful, without moderation turns bad.” There is no doubt that the artist has the right to artistic fiction. The question is only to what extent this right applies for the work to become a part of high culture.
In discussions of Mathilde, those who advocate the presumption of the boundless freedom of creativity for the artist often use great names in vain, in particular, Pushkin and Tolstoy. In vain they bring forth such examples; just as in The Captain’s Daughter and War and Peace we have before us examples of genius of the most boundless measure in relation to history and to its personalities in the artistic reconstruction of historical events.
“Fiction is not a hoax”—we recall these words of Bulat Okudzhava.1 In any case, artistic fiction should not be a deception, not for any reason. No matter what the creative, dramatic, and aesthetic reason, such a deception could not be justified. It is inconceivable to imagine that for the sake of the tradition of some special “creativity” with the plot of The Captain’s Daughter, the author would, for example, make Catherine II be Puchachev’s mistress, or in War and Peace, the author, burning with “inspiration” would be handed over to Napoleon, who would then burn not just Moscow, but also St. Petersburg, for more “dramatic tension.” And what? It’s nothing personal, just an artistic fabrication, because the author (or, as they love to say now, the “creator”) has the full right…
As regards the official position of the Russian Orthodox Church in relation to the film Mathilde, I expressed it as the chairman of the Patriarchal Cultural Council last year in The Russian Gazette: We don’t demand the film be banned, considering this a dead-end. But we reserve the right to refute the un-truths and convey to those who want to hear it, the credible story about this period in the life of the holy passion-bearer Tsar Nicholas. Also, the undoubted position of the Russian Orthodox Church has been expressed many times as a strong condemnation of any extremist actions of those drawn to discussions about the film.
I will not be speaking in this article about the offending of religious sensibilities—this matter is really too shaky, especially when it is supported by an article of the criminal code. What I would like to concentrate on is the offending of the sensibilities of historical truth, which is not subject to any legal punishment; on the artist’s moral responsibility for an obvious historical falsehood, which leads to societal conflicts, such as we see today—which nobody needs.
And, finally, the last thing. If a considerable number of my compatriots feel vividly and personally insulted when encountering historical untruths, if they consider it very important for themselves to stand up for the honor of their history, for the honor of their fellow citizens, both great and small, long departed into eternity, firstly using discussion, and, if deemed necessary, their legal civil rights, it’s a good, a very good sign.
And the film? In a month it will be shown on the screens of many Russian cities. It should also be noted that Mathilde is the only artistic film made in our country for the 100th anniversary of the revolution. Precisely this film, with such a story and with such an artistic approach, especially clearly marks what is in many respects and for our societal level a feasible understanding for our modern domestic cinematography of the most tragic and fateful events of our modern history.
But perhaps this will at least be a starting point for a more accurate historical evaluation.
On September 30, 2017, a new monument to Nicholas II was unveiled and consecrated in the village of Rishetich, near Doboj, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Society of Russian-Serbian Friendship and Unity of Orthodox Peoples (Republic of Serbia) took the initiative to establish the monument to the last Emperor of the Russian Empire. The monument was established at the request of Serbians living in Bosnia and Herzegovina to express their gratitude to Nicholas II who protected them during the First World War.
The Russian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Petr Ivantsov attended the opening ceremony. He talked about the symbolic meaning of this event as a moment of close interweaving of the fates of Orthodox Christians. The Ambassador reminded that the war of 1914 – 1918 was horrible and the Russian Empire headed by the Tsar and army protected its brothers in faith through the self-sacrifice.
More than one thousand people from the Serbian Republic along with senior priests and clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church took part in the event.
The installation of the monument is part of a larger project on the creation of a Monastery complex and Russian ethnic village in the North of the country implemented with support of the Society of Russian-Serbian Friendship and Unity of Orthodox peoples.
Vandalized Monument of Nicholas II Reconsecrated in Novosibirsk Topic: Nicholas II
Monument to Emperor Nicholas II and Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich in Novosibirsk
This article was originally published by Pravoslavie.ru on 18 September 2017
The rector of the Novosibirsk St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Archpriest Alexander Novopashin, re-consecrated a monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and Tsarevich Alexei on Friday, restored after it was damaged by vandals, reports the Novosibirsk Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The priest called on all Christians who were present at the consecration of the monument to pray to the holy martyrs that they would forgive the people’s callousness, negligence, rigidity in sins, and unwillingness to be corrected, that they were unable to protect the monument from the desecration of vandals.
The monument to the Royal Martyrs was initially consecrated on July 16 this year by Metropolitan Tikhon of Novosibirsk and Berdsk. The monument was attacked less than two weeks later when a 31-year-old Novosibirsk man placed a ladder against the newly-consecrated monument, and, having climbed up it, dealt several blows with an axe. Security officers happened to pass by at the time and were able to detain the vandal and hand him over to the police. Motive and cost of damages are yet to be established.
Specifically, the head of the tsarevich was damaged, while the statue of the tsar was not.
“You remember what was written on the banner that until recently hung over the south door of the cathedral: ‘Forgive us, Your Majesty!’” Fr. Alexander said, addressing the flock. “It’s not just a beautiful phrase. It’s a prayer of deep repentance, but repentance should be confirmed not only by a broken spirit, but by outward acts. As in the 90s we restored churches destroyed by the Bolsheviks, so today we are restoring what they have destroyed more recently. This is one of the forms of our repentance,” the priest continued.
“The tsar’s murder was not some political assassination. By that time the emperor had no political power. But he remained anointed of God, the center of spiritual power in the country, and therefore to spiritually decapitate Russia, the Bolsheviks killed him and his entire family. It was a blow to the soul of the Russian people,” Fr. Alexander emphasized.
The cathedral rector also emphasized that Tsar Nicholas is a role model for all Christians. His deep humility before the executioners, his patience, bravery, strength, and his enduring state in faith are Christian qualities that were the reasons for his canonization.
“Grant us, O our Lord Jesus Christ, by the prayers of the holy Royal Passion-bearers, a clear mind, a strong faith, and love for our history, our Fatherland, and our fellow man!” Fr. Alexander concluded.
After the consecration, Fr. Alexander received an email greeting and congratulations from Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria, which is deeply symbolic as the king of Bulgaria is a relative of Tsar Nicholas II.
Click here to read an article about the unveiling and consecration of this monument on 17 July 2017, and here to read an article about vandals attacking the monument on 1 August 2017.
On 26th August, the solemn unveiling ceremony of a new monument to Emperor Nicholas II took place in the Russian city of Leninsk-Kuznetsky. Known as the Kolchugino until 1925, the city is situated in the Kemerovo Oblast of south-western Siberia.
The 5 metre monument was erected on the square in front of the Palace of Culture and Arts. The bronze monument was a made in Ekaterinburg, a joint project by sculptor Yevgeny Potekhin, and Novokuznetsk architect Pavel Timanov.
"On this remarkable day, we consecrate this monument of Saint Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. The installation of the monument is timed to the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom of the tsar in 2018," said Metropolitan Kemerovo and Kuzbass Aristarchus at the opening of the monument.
The idea of installing a monument to Russia’s last emperor in Leninsk-Kuznetsky was put forward by a group of local parishioners with the support of the Kuzbass Metropolitanate. Based on historical significance of the name of Nicholas II has with the region, the idea was approved by the administration of the region.
At one time, the land on which Kolchugino is located today was part of the Crown lands of the Emperor. When large reserves of coal were discovered, Nicholas II ordered the development of coal mining in the region. In 1894, the Nikolaevskaya coal mine - named in honour of the accession to throne by Nicholas II - was opened near the village of Kolchugino (now Leninsk-Kuznetsky).
Click here to watch a video of the unveiling ceremony
The results of a poll conducted on 20 August 2017 by the Public Opinion Foundation (Russia) have revealed that a growing shift in the public’s assessment of Russia’s last emperor Nicholas II in Post-Soviet Russia.
During the research, sociologists found out that 69% of Russians are interested in history (read history books, watch historical documentaries, etc.), while 28% polled were not interested.
The poll also found that 50% of Russians believe that Emperor Nicholas II played a positive role in Russian history, while only 19% polled believe that he played a negative role, and 31% of respondents were undecided.
A similar poll conducted on 26th January 2014 found that only 41% of Russians believed that Nicholas II played a positive role in Russian history, while only 15% believe that he played a negative roll, and 44% were undecided.
In 1917, Nicholas II abdicated, which ended the period of monarchy in Russia: 30% of Russians believe that it would have been better for the country if it had remained a monarchy, while 39% of Russians believe that the end of the monarchy was good for the country, and 31% of respondents were undecided.
Further to the previous question, 41% of Russians expressed the opinion that Nicholas II deserved to be canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000, while 28% of respondents said they opposed his canonization, and 31% of respondents were undecided.
* * *
A lot of misinformation has been written about the life and reign of Nicholas II in both Russia and the West. Much of this was fueled by parlour room and Court gossip in pre-revolutionary St Petersburg, anti-monarchist, revolutionary, and Bolshevik sentiment and propaganda.
Since the release of Robert K. Massie's now classic Nicholas and Alexandra in 1967 - which has exceeded sales of more than 7 millions copies worldwide - a plethora of books have been published on the subject by Western historians and biographers. Many of these authors were content to uphold the popular held Soviet myths and lies.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, a new generation of Russian historian has taken up the task of carrying out research from new archival sources. Their results rightly challenge those of their Western counterparts. Many of these articles have been translated into English, and published in issues of Sovereign: The Life and Reign of Emperor Nicholas II. I am currently working on the No. 5 issue - due this Autumn - which will offer more works by Russian historians - PG
Monument to Tsar Nicholas II, Tsesarevich Alexey in Novosibirsk Attacked with Axe Topic: Nicholas II
The head of the monument to Tsesarevich Alexey is covered to conceal the damage
This article was originally published by Pravoslavie.ru on 1 August 2017
Novosibirsk police are looking into the damage inflicted on a monument to Tsar Nicholas II and his son Tsesarevich Alexey, installed in July at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, reports Interfax-Religion, with reference to the press service of the regional office of Russian Internal Affairs.
According to police, a 31-year-old Novosibirsk man placed a ladder against the newly-consecrated monument, and, having climbed up it, dealt several blows with an axe. Security officers happened to pass by at the time and were able to detain the vandal and hand him over to the police. Motive and cost of damages are yet to be established.
The head of the tsesarevich in the monument, which was apparently the target, is currently covered over by a cloth. The statue of the emperor himself was not damaged.
The monument had only just been opened on the square in front of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Novosibirsk on July 16, the day before the Church commemorates the holy Royal Martyrs. It was consecrated by Metropolitan Tikhon of Novosibirsk and Berdsk. The consecration was also attended by Bishop Paul of Kolyvansky, the dean of Novosibirsk churches Archpriest Alexander Novopashin, and the clergy of the Novosibirsk Diocese.
Rector of the St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral Archpriest Alexander Novopashin explained that the choice of location for the monument was no accident, as the cathedral itself had been built in honor of Tsar Alexander III the Peacemaker, the father of Tsar Nicholas II, with a donation of 7,500 rubles from Tsar Nicholas II himself for the cathedral’s iconostasis, and donations from Maria Feodorovna, the wife of Tsar Alexander III and mother of Tsar Nicholas II. “Finally, you can see, behind the back of Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich stands an arch with a cross. It is a symbol of Golgotha!” the priest said.
Fr. Alexander also noted that Novosibirsk was previously known as Novo-Nikolaevsk, in honour of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the patron saint of Tsar Nicholas II.
Click here to read an article about the unveiling and consecration of this monument in Novosibirsk on 17th July, 2017.
"Hands off the Russian Tsar" - Orthodox Christians Protest Controversial Film in Moscow Topic: Nicholas II
The film Mathilde is set to premiere on 6th October at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg
This article was originally published by Pravoslavie.ru on 31 July 2017
Orthodox activists of the Forty Times Forty movement protested against the new film “Mathilde,” which deals with the early life of the Royal Martyr Tsar Nicholas II, on Friday, standing with banners near the State Duma, the Public Prosecutor, and the Ministry of Culture, reports RIA-Novosti.
“Today, Orthodox believers stood with placards against the film ‘Mathilde’ at the main state buildings—the Ministry of Culture, the State Duma, the Presidential Administration, the Prosecutor’s office, and also the studios of the director Uchitel in St. Petersburg and of the Cinema Fund in Moscow,” a representative of the movement reported.
Movement coordinator Andrei Kormukhin earlier stated that the pickets were planned at those agencies with the authority to make a decision about the film project.
The movie is dedicated to the history of the life of the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska, who once had a relationship with the future tsar and Royal Martyr Nicholas II. The main role is played by Polish actress Mikhalina Olshansky, and that of the then-tsarevich Lars Eidinger from Germany. Many believe the film is historically inaccurate, provocatively distorting the truth of the pious and holy emperor.
The picketers’ placards read such things as, “’Mathilde’ destroys the national security strategy,” “Hands off the Russian Tsar!” “Orthodoxy built Russia! ‘Mathilde’ is destroying it… Vladimir Vladimirovich, protect Russia,” and bore Bible verses: “Touch not mine anointed” (Ps. 104:15).
“The pickets were held to express the opinion of the people, who for some reason want to remain on the sidelines of the controversy over ‘Mathilde.’ Each participant made his own poster with his own hands and wrote what he wanted to convey to the decision-makers. We are not against Alexei Uchitel; we are against the blasphemous film which insults the holy tsar, Russian history, and the sensibilities of Orthodox believers with its content,” the activists proclaimed.
The cause against the film has also been championed by State Duma Deputy Natalia Poklonskaya, well known for her great veneration of the Royal Martyr Nicholas II and his family. She has gathered 100,000 appeals and signatures from citizens standing against the film, and has made an inquiry with the Prosecutor General, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Culture, she wrote on her Facebook page.
According to her, 37 State Duma deputies have also signed a request to take measures to prevent “insults to the religious sensibilities of believers and the profanation of Orthodox saints,” including the Duma Vice-Chairman.
Orthodox activists protest the film Mathilde in Moscow
Although the film has caused a scandal among believers, the chairman of the Synodal Department for Church and Society and the Media Vladmir Legoyda believes it is misguided to organize against the film. Responding to Metropolitan Paul of Khanty-Mansiysk and Surgut’s June 18 call to collect signatures in his diocese against the film, Legoyda wrote on his Facebook page, “I can understand what many do not like in the director’s idea… However, I consider the centralized collection of signatures in parishes of the diocese to ban the film to be a mistake.”
The head of the House of Romanov Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna has stated that she is upset with the upcoming release of the film “Mathilde,” but at the same time, that she thinks it is pointless to try to ban it, and other films, as it only draws undue attention.
“The head of the Russian Imperial House of the Romanovs, Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is disappointed that in the centenary year of the tragic events of the 1917 revolution, and on the eve of the centenary of the regicide, the release of a film is planned, representing the Emperor Nicholas II, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and a number of other historical figures in a completely distorted light, as amoral and mentally unbalanced people,” stated Alexander Zakatov, the director of the Imperial House’s chancellery, adding that the diaries of those involved disprove the presentation put forth in the film.
“Mathilde” director Alexei Uchitel has stated that there is nothing in the film that should offend Orthodox Christians. “There is nothing there that can offend the sensibilities of believers. There is no vulgarity there,” he said, although the Imperial House believes he knew full well what the reaction to his film would be.
In contrast to Legoyda, abbot of the Athonite St. Panteleimon’s Monastery Fr. Evlogy and the brotherhood stand behind Poklonskaya and her attempt to ban the film: “We wholeheartedly support you and share your attitude to the project, which dishonors the memory of the holy Royal Martyrs.”
Responding to the deputy’s request for a statement concerning the film, Fr. Evlogy terms the film “deliberately provocative,” saying it “evokes abhorrence from anyone who reveres the history of the Fatherland and preserves the whole of its moral sense.” Noting that the memory of the Royal Martyrs is reverently celebrated with love on the Holy Mountain, the abbot writes that the fact of such a film being released in an Orthodox nation “is deeply distressing and depressing.”
“We cannot characterize this film other than as a mockery of the sensibilities of the faithful,” Fr. Evlogy writes on behalf of his brotherhood.
Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) had earlier told Uchitel that he did not like his film, characterizing it as “vulgarity.” He also said that he would make his opinion publicly known. Uchitel stated that he respects the metropolitan and his evaluation and thanked him for his honesty.
For his part, Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), abbot of Sretensky Monastery and head of the Patriarchal Council for Culture has called the film a “vulgar fraud” and “slander,” stating that it belongs to the genre of fantasy. Speaking in an interview with Russian Gazette, he asked rhetorically, “Why do they make audiences believe in the historicity of these contrived heartbreaking scenes of a ‘love triangle’ in which Nicholas, both before and after marriage, is melodramatically torn between Mathilde and Alexandra?” adding, “What is that? The author’s vision? No—it is slander against real people,” in sharp disagreement with the director.
The film’s premiere is set for October 6 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, with general release slated for late October. Meanwhile, work on a documentary film “Mathilde's Lies,” directed by Sergei Aliev, has begun, to “debunk the myths” surrounding the historical personality of Tsar Nicholas II.