Ekaterinburg, September 5, 2017
Although he believes the movement to ban the film “Mathilde” is a dead end, Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Egorievsk, abbot of Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery and president of the Patriarchal Cultural Council, has stated that he personally refused to be a consultant for the filming, and that the trailer of the film “horrified” him, reports RIA-Novosti. The hierarch spoke about this at a recent lecture he gave at the opening of the historical park “Russia—My History” in Ekaterinburg.
“The director Uchitel, who I don’t personally know and whose films I’ve never seen, called me, and asked, ‘Would you like to become a consultant for the film?’ I said, ‘Give me an official request. I will look at the request and then answer you.’ The director Uchitel said, ‘The script is already ready.’ I said, ‘The script?... First you make a request to consultants, and then you develop the script.’ He said, ‘The film is already almost ready.’ I said, ‘That’s great! You want a consultant on a film that’s nearly ready. Why?’”
The bishop noted that he asked the director to send him the script, but, according to him, when it was done he had already seen the trailer for the film. “It horrified me, because there was written in huge letters, ‘The biggest historical blockbuster of the year,’… Then there was written, ‘Secrets of the house of Romanov,’ he stated.
Bp. Tikhon stated that he was outraged by the phrase in the trailer spoken by Emperor Alexander III: “I am the only Romanov who has not lived with ballerinas.” The president of the Patriarchal Council for Culture called it “breathtaking in its vulgarity.” “I told all of this to the director,” he continued, noting that, in the end, he refused to be a consultant.
Bp. Tikhon earlier 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.”
Despite his strong distaste for the film, Bp. Tikhon believes the movement to ban the film will be unsuccessful. “I think that banning the film is a dead-end. We have no tools for banning… I know it will be impossible to ban it. We do not have censorship, but we must tell the truth of history. It’s a lie about the royal family, a lie about our history, and from an artistic point of view, it’s just an unbearable vulgarity,” the hierarch concluded at his Ekaterinburg lecture.
The movie is dedicated to 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.