The peasant man was fortunate to have landed on the doorsteps of the royal palace, which in turn, helped him climb the social ladder and into the beds of women of the Russian elite circle. The film tells rather vividly of how Rasputin—who believed that to achieve a higher spiritual level, one must sin—was legendary for his notorious sex life and exceptional sexual appetite.  

Speculations emerged about Alexandra’s relationship with Rasputin, fueled by the leak of affectionate letters she had written to him. The Czarina certainly held Rasputin close to her heart, but never between her legs, as historians have assured us. However, much like what happened to Marie Antoinette, the alleged sexual relationship was used against the German-born and English-raised Czarina to justify the people’s discontent with their rulers, and the nobles’ hatred of Rasputin.

It is somewhat hard to tell fact from myth when it concerns Rasputin as there is so much legend surrounding the man. Such an example is the legend surrounding his assassination by the nobles which the film rather comically illustrated in the scene when he did not succumb to the poison in his wine. So the assassinators had to shoot him until he finally collapsed and died. In real life, the autopsy revealed he was not poisoned.

The film seems to stray away from a number of facts. During the family’s house arrest, the young male guards and the Romanov girls started to get along. Maria was said to have had started a thing with one of the boys. To spice it up, in the film, they were caught making love and the boy was executed. However, sources say, the boy gave Maria a cake for her birthday and then he and the other guards were dismissed and replaced by hardline Bolshevik guards. Another stray is that the family was executed with only the court physician, while in reality three attendants were also present. Makes one wonder why this fact was omitted.

The story ends with the climax of the execution and the confirmation that the girl in the hospital was an imposter. As for the execution, it was an execution gone wrong. The girls did not immediately die of the gunshots fired by the squad, as jewels sewn into their undergarment shielded them. Thus, other violent methods were employed, turning the execution into a blood bath.

Related: In the Name of Revolutionary Justice: The Romanovs' Murder

It’s a pity that the film didn’t go on to tell the next sequence of event, another scenario gone wrong: the Bolshevik’s ill-prepared attempt to dispose of the bodies. The executors were drunk and brought only one shovel (yes, one!), and their truck broke down. Sounds like a joke, but nonetheless, a fact which is part of a history that wouldn’t be revealed until decades later.

A video for the 1978 dance hit "Rasputin" made with scenes from the 1996 TV movie "Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny".
Photos: Pinterest, Wikipedia