Mathilde director admits film contains historical inaccuracies

Moscow, October 12, 2017

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Director Alexei Uchitel believes that the creators of the film Mathilde can be accused of historical inaccuracies, but added that the film can only be fairly criticized after viewing the full and final project, reports Interfax-Religion.

Note that it is precisely the historical inaccuracies, among other things, that have evoked such a strong reaction against the film in Russian society.

As an example, the director mentioned the scene from the film showing the tragedy at Khodynka Field, when an unruly crowd crushed over 1,000 people on the day of Tsar Nicholas’ coronation.

“It can be accused of historical inaccuracies. But if [Tsar Nicholas] had been there, then it’s our authorial treatment of how he would have behaved… There is a share of fiction, but I don’t think it’s so bad; the basic facts are there,” explained Uchitel.

That the film contains even the basic facts is contradicted by historians who have examined the full script of the film. “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,” write Professors S. P. Karlov and S. V. Mironenko of Moscow State University.

In April, a team of doctors of psychology, law, linguistics, and cultural and historical sciences examined the script, concluding,

the image of Russian Emperor Nicholas II, canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church, created in the film Mathilde cannot but offend the religious sensibilities and not demean the human dignity of a considerable section of Orthodox Christians—the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church, inasmuch as the film is aimed at forming a well-defined but false image of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II as an inept and morally corrupt person.

Commenting on “authorial treatment,” His Grace Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), has 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.”

“It is probably possible and necessary to criticize the film, but all but two people have said they don’t understand what the discussion is about [about the insulting of religious sensibilities—IR]. Everyone, almost to the man, who criticizes the film has not seen it,” Uchitel said, seemingly ignoring those who have familiarized themselves with the entire script of the film.

One man who has seen the film, and by Uchitel’s request, is Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations. “I can say nothing good about your film” Met. Hilarion told Uchitel.

According to the hierarch, the film opens with licentiousness, and continues in the same vein. “This ballerina (Mathilde Kschessinkaya—Ed.) is running around the stage of the Mariisnky Theatre. Her bodice breaks, and her bare breasts are exposed. Here she is running with her bare breasts, the heir is sitting in the Royal Box, and suddenly he excitedly jumps up from his chair,” His Eminence explained. “With this vulgarity the film begins, and so it continues,” he added.

The film 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.


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