In this 1971 Academy Award-winning film, the cinematography of Freddie Young contrasts the pomp and ceremony of the Russian court of Czar Nicholas II (Michael Jayston) and his beloved wife, Czarina Alexandra (Janet Suzman), with the misery and despair of the czar's poverty-stricken subjects. The result is a visual triumph that captures the supreme elegance of a Russian ball and the abject horror of a czarist assault on ragged peasantry. Although the film's three-hour length and methodical development displeased many critics, aficionados of history, epic spectacle, and larger-than-life characters may find this production an exciting journey through an age in turmoil. The history is accurate, the settings and costumes authentic, and the acting excellent. Jayston is appropriately handsome and haughty, and Suzman both regal and human. Tom Baker is mesmerizing as Rasputin, although his sharp wit and urbanity are historically inaccurate. The film gets an extra kick from old pros Laurence Olivier as Count Witte, Jack Hawkins as Count Fredericks, and Michael Redgrave as Sazonov. The film won Oscars for art and set direction and for costume design. It won Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Suzman), and Best Cinematography.
by Mike Cummings review