Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Will Showings of Controversial Film about Last Tsar Calm Russia or Spark More Protests?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 12 – For some months, Duma deputy Natalya Poklonskaya and Russian Orthodox nationalists have denounced the film “Mathilda” about the love life of the last tsar as an attack on Russia that must be opposed.  They have gained support from many commentators and officials, but none of those involved have seen the film they see as a threat.

            Now, the movie is beginning to be shown. Among its first runs is one now in a Vladivostok theater, and from what Komsomolskaya Pravda reports, at least some of the viewers are buying tickets because of the controversy but the film itself is likely to take the wind out of the sails of its critics (kp.ru/daily/26729/3756572/).

            That is especially the case given the horror many have felt about the violence some opponents of the film have engaged in and the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate has denounced those most radical forms of protest (interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=68139). But at the same time the film’s opponents may choose to step up their protests even more.

            The showing of the film in Vladivostok, the Moscow paper reports, was sold out. Most of those in attendance were young people animated less by the scandal than by a desire to see a good movie by a director they like, although some acknowledged that the controversy was a source of attraction as well. The showing passed without any provocations.

            One viewer observed that the film “is not about a saint.” Rather, “it is the story of a man who loved and was loved. And by the way, there isn’t any pornography. There are several bed scenes but they as in the anecdote aren’t really past. Soft eroticism, no more than that.  In one scene, the ballerina’s breast is glimpsed – a beautiful one at that.”

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