NEWSWATCH: “The most controversial, anticipated film in years is coming soon to Russia. What’s it actually about? [Re: ‘Matilda’]” – Meduza/ Anton Dolin/ translation Kevin Rothrock

File Photo of Reel of Film

“When it comes to cultural scandals in contemporary Russia, it’s hard to find anything so controversial as “Matilda,” a new film by Alexey Uchitel about the love affair between Nicholas Romanov, when he was still heir to the tsarist empire, and Matilda Kshesinskaya, a celebrated ballerina …. A campaign against the movie has raged for almost a year …
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On the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, Russian cinema is as silent as the grave. Everyone senses the danger of going anywhere near anything … you’re sure to offend someone. … ‘Matilda’ is a powerful statement on this. Without straying from the main historical facts, this film nonetheless belongs to the genre of alternate history. … how everything might be different, if Nikolai hadn’t … rejected Matilda out of duty to the throne. It might be like it is in the film: beautiful, elegant, wealthy, and like a fairytale. There would have been no Khodynka Tragedy (when almost 1,400 people died in a stampede during festivities following Nicholas II’s coronation); the tsar would not have abdicated; there would have been no coup; and Russia might have escaped two world wars. …

‘Matilda’ is a modest love story that happens to have opened a rift in Russian society, but a romance between a future ruler and a ballerina is also an affair that could have changed the empire’s destiny. It’s a pity that it didn’t. Or maybe it isn’t. We will never know.

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