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Film Review: Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1966)

lee rasputin

I was about 15 years old and I was sat in a history lesson. Joking around with friends and throwing balls of paper at the back of people’s heads seemed like a good distraction from the history of the Russian Revolution but then something strange came over me. This was a man in my textbook with long hair, a wispy beard and the most hypnotic eyes, suddenly the boredom died and I became ridiculously interested in this mad monk – Gregori Rasputin. A few months later I achieved almost 100% in my exam paper – I considered myself an expert. A few years later I would stop partying and sit still to watch a film which was the Hammer Studio’s Rasputin featuring Christopher Lee.

Christopher Lee has one of those hypnotic stares, those piercing brown eyes and that tall stature that will either intimidate you to the point you feel you want to find a quick exit or you will fall weak at the knees. Either way – he was the perfect choice for the role. It has been noted that in preparation for the role Lee read up on the life of Rasputin so he could give it a more accurate portrayal and he does a fantastic job bringing the mad monk to life onscreen.

To give it its full title – Rasputin, the Mad Monk was made in 1966 by Hammer film directed by Don Sharp. The story is largely fictional but there are parts that are closely based on the run up to the death of Rasputin. The story begins when he heals the wife of an innkeeper and on hearing of his miraculous powers and from here he uses his sexual and healing talents to get into the royal family but as the story unfolds a plot is put in place to kill him.

It is a tale of religion, treachery, lies and occultism. A fantastic piece of fiction but with a nice touch of real events. By no means can you take this as a real account of Rasputin but it is an entertaining film brought to life by the wonderful Christopher Lee.

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