Nicholas II was the last tsar in Russia. He reigned at a time of local and global upheaval, and was executed along with his family in 1918 by the Bolsheviks after abdicating the throne a year earlier. Now, a new movie is coming out in Russia based on the life of the famous tsar, and a lot of people in the country are not particularly happy about it. In fact, seven people were arrested at the Moscow premiere of the movie for attempting to stage a protest. The news comes just a few weeks after protestors attempted to set fire to theaters that were planning on showing the film.
The movie, Matilda, is basically your typical romance/drama, but the subject matter, which follows the affair between Nicholas II (who had not yet taken on the duties of ruling) and his ballerina mistress Matilda Kshesinskaya, has made some Russians very unhappy. The movie foreshadows the downfall of Nicholas II, and the Guardian says people are also unhappy with the focus on the ruler's relationship, the film's sex scenes and the way Nicholas II is brought to life on the big screen.
In fact, the trailer has been a little risqué, with a shot of the famous ballerina's strap breaking while onstage and Nicholas II taking in the sights. Sex also plays a big role in the movie, as Nicholas II falls into bed with his new mistress.
The arrests come after a lot of other tumult surrounding Matilda. Last month, a theater in Yekaterinburg was targeted by a Christian extremists who felt like any theater screening the movie should be burnt down. A minibus packed with flammable materials was driven into the cinema, but no one was hurt in the incident. Then, two cars were set on fire outside Alexei Uchitel's legal office. The lawyer is representing Matilda. Even a distant sort-of relative of Nicholas II, Olga Kulikovskaya-Romanova, who married Nicholas II's nephew, has come out against the movie, calling it "vile."
Despite the actions of a few extremists, plans for the film's release keep moving forward. The flick is expected to be screened at 2, 200 theaters in Russia, and extra security measures are being taken for Matilda during premiere week. The controversy around the film has caused some movie theater chains, like Formula Kino, to back out, although that decision seems to have been reversed after larger security measures were put into place. We'll keep you updated as the controversial Matilda makes its way into Russian movie theaters. (Just a few days after American Made was actually pulled from Russian theaters, too.) In the meantime, you can see what is coming stateside with our full movies schedule.