(Pictured above: Michalina Olszanska as ‘Matilda,’ right after her wardrobe malfunction. Source: YouTube screenshot)
You could call it Russia’s version of The Last Temptation of Christ. Russian movie theaters set to open the historical drama Matilda one month from today, October 26, have been beset for months by threats of violence from religious zealots.
In this case, as reported by the AP and others, Russia’s Orthodox Church and public officials are protesting Matilda’s depiction of an affair between Nicholas II, later to be Russia’s last czar, and ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya. Nicholas II, killed by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution 100 years ago next July 17, was canonized as a saint by the church in 2000.
As noted by The New York Times, one of the catalysts against Matilda has been the ballerina’s bare breast in the following trailer (if you don’t see English subtitles, click the settings gear):
No word if or when Matilda will come to the US, but you can stream a more staid version of the affair right here: an episode of the 1974 BBC series Fall of Eagles titled “The Last Tsar.” During the first two minutes, Matilda’s dancing still manages to mesmerize Nicholas, with nary a nipple in sight:
Long after her affair with Nicholas, and after the Russian Revolution as well, Matilda (left) married Nicholas’ cousin, the Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, in Paris. She then lived a long life, dying in 1971, just a few months short of her 100th birthday.
Which brings us to current Bolshoi dancer Eleonora Sevenard, a descendent of Matilda’s — or perhaps a direct heir to Nicholas’ royal family, the House of Romanovs? Apparently, lots of folks have claimed to be such heirs over the years, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a version of Sevenard shows up in Mad Men creator Matt Weiner’s upcoming Amazon Prime anthology, The Romanoffs. Each episode of that series will focus on different people who believe themselves to be modern-day descendants of the royal family, as explained here:
Such claims, however, have been debunked through scientific evidence proving the deaths of the entire Romanov family. For more on the family’s final days, here’s the final episode of the eight-hour documentary, The Romanovs: The History of the Russian Dynasty:
You can view the entire series, documenting 300 years of the Romanovs, free on YouTube.
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