Rasputin, the Mad Monk
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|Rasputin, the Mad Monk|
Original French film poster
|Directed by||Don Sharp|
|Produced by||Anthony Nelson Keys|
|Written by||Anthony Hinds|
|Music by||Don Banks|
|Edited by||Roy Hyde|
|Hammer Film Productions
|Distributed by||Warner-Pathé Distributors (UK)
20th Century-Fox (US)
Lumiere Pictures (1995) (UK) (VHS)
Anchor Bay Entertainment & Video Treasures (Both 1997 USA VHS)
Warner Home Video (1999 & 2003) (UK) (VHS & DVD)
Castle Pictures (UK) (VHS)
Studio Canal (2009) (UK) (DVD)
|Release date(s)||6 March 1966 (UK)
6 April 1966 (US)
|Running time||91 min.|
Rasputin, the Mad Monk is a 1966 Hammer film directed by Don Sharp. It stars Christopher Lee as Grigori Rasputin, the Russian peasant-mystic notable for gaining great influence with the Tsars prior to the Russian Revolution. It also features Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews, Suzan Farmer, Richard Pasco, Dinsdale Landen and Renée Asherson. The story is largely fictionalized, although some of the events leading up to Rasputin's assassination are very loosely based on Prince Yusupov's account of the story. For legal reasons, the character of Yusupov was replaced by Ivan (Matthews). Yusupov was still alive when the film was released, dying on September 27, 1967.
The emphasis is on Rasputin's terrifying powers both to work magic and to seduce women.
The story begins in the Russian countryside, where Rasputin heals the sick wife of an innkeeper (Derek Francis). When he is later hauled before an Orthodox bishop for his sexual immorality and violence, the innkeeper springs to the monk's defence. Rasputin protests that he is sexually immoral because he likes to give God "sins worth forgiving". He also claims to have healing powers in his hands, and is unperturbed by the bishop's accusation that his power is from Satan.
Rasputin heads for St. Petersburg, where he forces his way into the home of Dr Zargo (Pasco), from where he begins his campaign to gain influence over the Tsarina (Asherson). He manipulates the Tsarina's lady-in-waiting, Sonia (Shelley), whom he uses to satisfy his voracious sexual appetite and gain access to the Tsarina.
However, Rasputin's ruthless pursuit of wealth and prestige, and increasing control over the royal household attracts opposition. Sonia's brother, Peter (Landen), enraged by Rasputin's seduction of his sister, enlists the help of Ivan to bring about the monk's downfall.
- This was filmed back-to-back in 1965 with Dracula: Prince of Darkness, using the same sets at Hammer's Bray Studios. Lee, Matthews, Shelley and Farmer appeared in both films. In some markets, it was released on a double feature with The Reptile.
- The original ending had the lifeless Rasputin lying on the ice with his hands held up to his forehead in benediction. However, it was considered controversial for religious reasons, and was removed. Stills of the original ending still exist.
- As a child in the 1920s, Lee had actually met Rasputin's killer, Felix Yusupov.
- Christopher Lee as Grigori Rasputin
- Barbara Shelley as Sonia
- Richard Pasco as Dr. Boris Zargo
- Francis Matthews as Ivan
- Suzan Farmer as Vanessa
- Dinsdale Landen as Peter
- Renée Asherson as Tsarina
- Derek Francis as Innkeeper
- Joss Ackland as The Bishop
- Robert Duncan as Tsarvitch
- Alan Tilvern as Patron
- John Welsh as The Abbot
- Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes, The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, Titan Books, 2007 p 96
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