Date: Thursday, January 21st
Time: 7pm ( Screening will start at 7.15 sharp )
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn NY.
Tickets Here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2468949
The story of the malevolent intrigues and gruesome death of Grigori Rasputin, reads like a grim folk-fable come to life. The strange, Siberian, self-styled starets was infamous for his sway over the Romanovs in the last years of the Russian Tsardom. His assassination at the hands of Prince Felix Yusupov involved poisoned pastries that had no effect, gunshots which failed to kill him, and a demise eventually achieved by Prince Yusupov and the conspirators drowning the poisoned and bullet-ridden Rasputin in the Niva River.
The tale has made its way onto the screen in many guises, and we celebrate the birthday of Rasputin in Golden Age Hollywood fashion with “Rasputin and the Empress” from 1932, a film that has earned its place in the annals movie trivia for featuring of all three Barrymore siblings (Ethel, John, and Lionel), as well as a certain degree of infamy for being the basis of a successful libel lawsuit against MGM by the Yusupov family — that very-same clan of Russian noble exiles of which included the mastermind of the grisly, protracted assassination.
Prince Yusupov is styled in the film as “Prince Chegodieff,” played by an earnest John Barrymore, expressing his contempt for the mad monk’s sway over the court as being “like a man-eating shark with a bible under its fin.” Ethel Barrymore’s Tsarina Alexandra frets maternally over the health of young Prince Alexi, while it is with Lionel Barrymore, in the role of the healer of the hemophiliac child who makes manifest the film’s pre-Code debauchery! Lionel’s Rasputin leers with mesmeric eyes and speaks in menacing whispers at the Tsarevich’s sick bed, makes declarations of power-hungry bravada while surrounded by a flock of well-dressed young lady admirers, and unnerves with expressions of an acutely creepy fondness towards the Tsar and Tsarina’s adolescent daughter Maria.
Those familiar with the story of Rasputin’s murder will notice liberties taken by the film’s producers (it was the stretching of the truth in the matter of Rasputin’s libidinal conquests that triggered the aforementioned libel suit). But in life, as on the movie screen, the notorious mock monk, engorged with poisoned pastries, refuses to die an easy death. The bloody and prolonged murder of Rasputin in all its gruesome infamy would be impossible to film just a few years later as the Motion Picture Production Code sought to rid the movie screen of gratuitous violence, venial degeneration, and amorality. But could any part of the story of Rasputin have made it to the screen under such a crushing mantle of decency?
Being that the screening will take place on Rasputin’s birthday there may be some birthday cake to go with our cinematic main course, but we promise we shall not take the celebration too far and fill it with deadly poison!
Tickets are non-refundable unless the event is canceled.