Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nicholas II: First in My Book!

In a shout-out to Kate and the glories of Russian history, I've decided to write my next post on Nicholas II. I've decided not to use the word "tsar" or "czar" in this entry, because I really don't want to have to choose. And I'd prefer not to be judged by my Russia-brilliant counterpart, who probably knows which one is a better version of the word. (I do know that this word comes from "Caesar," but that's about it.)

Anyway. My interest in Russia stems from my complete obsession with the cartoon version of "Anastasia." One of my largest pet peeves (okay, top twenty) is when people rave about how wonderful Disney is, thinking of such a film. First of all. It's not a Disney movie! It was put out by 20th Century Fox! Secondly, they actually made a live-action version of what was essentially the same film back in 1956. That one had Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner. The latter was born in Russia, so this actually makes sense. Unlike other films in which Brynner starred, like "The King and I."

What Russian wouldn't want to live like a Siamese king?

Anyway. Neither "Anastasia" was a Disney movie. Perhaps even more tragic than the general public's confusion on this point was the news a couple of years back that the remains of the last two Romanovs had been found, thus proving that in fact all of Nicholas II's family had been killed at Yekaterinburg. Historians have known for years that Anastasia had been among those murdered, and that her sister Marie was the one more likely to have escaped. And now we know that's not true, either.
Where was the "boy, the boy who opened a wall!" when you needed him? (By the way, Dimitri is perhaps the most endearing male character from any film, ever. I dare you to disagree.)

Now that I've spent most of my post raving about children's films, let's just talk about Nicholas II. Obviously, things didn't end up so well for him. I'd rather not get into that, because I find the idea of mass executions extremely disturbing, especially when children are involved. In any case, Nicholas worked pretty hard to be a good leader. He and his wife Alexandra wanted to do right by their people, but, frankly, how do you effectively deal with the epic wasteland of nutrient-poor soil that is Russia? The onset of World War One didn't do much to help out Russia's last royal family, either. I think it's fair to say Nicholas just wasn't cut out to rule.

But man, did he look good doing it!

And what an outfit!

Nicholas, for all his faults, was a family man. He loved buying Faberge eggs. Who wouldn't love a man that does that? And he had absolutely GORGEOUS blue eyes. Unfortunately, these are not well-conveyed in ancient sepia images.

But we're going to look anyway.

Revolution? What? I'm busy looking beautiful and bemused.

So, yeah. Nicholas II. A good-looking man who failed in his birthright, and who will subsequently be forever etched in the popular memory. (Case in point: people don't talk as much about Nicholas I. Except maybe for connoiseurs of Russia like Kate.)

As I sign off, I'd just like to add that in gathering these images, I came across the words "Anastasia" and "Disney" thrown together a few too many times for my tastes. Educate your friends, all!

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