Grigory Rasputin (1872-1916) rose from peasantry in Siberia to become one of the most influential courtiers in Russian history. For a television production, the motion picture is lavish, putting on the costumes and customs of pre-revolutionary Russia and taking the viewer inside the ornate Royal Palaces of St. Petersburg. Alan Rickman embodies Rasputin's duality, a self-proclaimed monk with a feral appetite for sex and political power. In one moment, Rasputin is holy, entertaining heaven-sent visions. In another, he is profane, committing the basest sins of the flesh while claiming that they are forms of religious ritual. Rickman acts the part with wild-eyed mysticism and appropriately revolting gusto, although his interpretation of his role tends to downplay Rasputin's lack of education and peasant background. Another problem is the sometimes anachronistic script. For example, it has Prime Minister Stolypin (James Frain) plotting to kill Rasputin in 1916, even though Stolypin died in 1911. But the film aptly depicts all the trappings of the Imperial Russian court, and the intrigue that led to the murder of Rasputin and the overthrow of the czar. Ian McKellan and Greta Scacchi support Rickman with strong performances.