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This lavish, overlong production chronicles the downfall of the last Russian czar Nicholas II (Michael Jayston), and his wife Alexandra (Janet Suzman). The film concentrates on their troubled family life, especially the affliction of their only son, Alexis (Roderic Noble), with
hemophilia. Nicholas's preoccupation with this tragedy influences state decisions and increases his disengagement from his starving people, while Alexandra falls completely under the influence of the profligate peasant monk Rasputin (Tom Baker), believing that his mystic powers can heal her son.
Rasputin's power increases in the Imperial Court despite Nicholas's weak efforts to maintain authority; meanwhile, hundreds are slaughtered at the Winter Palace, fueling Lenin (Michael Bryant) and Trotsky's (Brian Cox) crusade to overthrow "Bloody Nicholas." As the tide of assassination and unrest
rises, an ill-prepared Russia suffers terrible losses in WWI, setting the stage for revolution in 1917 and the execution of the deposed czar and family in July 1918. While it remains a treat for the eyes, NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA suffers from the filmmakers' attempts to tell too much. Its overview
of more than two decades of tumultuous, epochal history develops few of its famous figures beyond caricature (although Baker, of "Dr. Who" fame, plays Rasputin with flamboyance and verve), and the failure to bring Nicholas and Alexandra to life--despite the script's intimate and sympathetic
treatment of the pair--is especially critical. Shot on location in Spain and Yugoslavia, the film won Oscars for Best Art Direction, Set Decoration, and Costumes. It was also nominated for Best Picture (losing to THE FRENCH CONNECTION), Best Actress (Suzman, who lost to Jane Fonda for KLUTE), Best
Score, and Best Cinematography.