Magazine article Russian Life

Walling off Matilda

Magazine article Russian Life

Walling off Matilda

Article excerpt

Russian authorities would like to mark the centennial year of the Russian revolutions by stressing the unity of the country, to show that past strife has long since been replaced by stability.

But, as Russia approaches the end of 2017, tempers are flaring around a biopic about Nicholas ll's love affair with the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska.

Old debates die hard.

The movie, Matilda, by Alexei Uchitel, is making Orthodox conservatives seethe, and it has pushed some extremists to make bomb threats against movie theaters as a way to prevent screenings, How, opponents ask, dare Uchitel, whose film focuses on the documented love affair between Nicholas (prior to his marriage or ascent to the throne) and Mathilde, a dancer at the Mariinsky Theater, show a decidedly unregal side of the venerated martyr tsar?

The extent of the furor over the movie even led Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to admit that his "patience had run out," He is now urging law enforcement to bring the attackers to justice.

Fun fact: The Bolshoi Theater in September hired Mathilde Kschessinska's great-great-grand-niece Eleonora Sevenard, a talented young dancer who just graduated from the Vaganova Ballet School in St. Petersburg. Eleonora is descended from Mathilde's brother, losif Kschessinski, also a ballet dancer, whose daughter Tselina chose to remain in the Soviet Union and married engineer Konstantin Sevenard.

"The last Russian emperor and a ballerina who confirmed the greatness of Russian ballet. Passion that could have changed Russian history. Love that became legend."

Excerpt from the synopsis of Matilda from the official webpage of Rock film studio

"Whether intentionally or not, Alexei Uchitel has touched on a taboo topic, and it's bigger than the fate of the emperor. On the centennial of the 1917 revolution, our filmmakers are as mute as fishes. …

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