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Nicholas And Alexandra

7.22 h 48 min1971PG
Epic yet tragic true story of Tsar Nicholas II, a man who lost an empire because he couldn't say "no" to his wife. Featuring an all star cast of England's greatest actors: Laurence Olivier, Irene Worth,, Harry Andrews, Jack Hawkins, Michael Redgrave and Tom Baker.
Franklin Schaffner
Michael JaystonJanet SuzmanRoderic Noble
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Supporting actors
Laurence OlivierMichael RedgraveAlexander KnoxCurt Jurgens
Sam SpiegelFranklin Schaffner
Columbia Pictures
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

720 global ratings

  1. 67% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 19% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Mervyn CapelReviewed in the United Kingdom on 09 July 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Nation's Tragedy Makes Fine Epic
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An intelligent historical drama, with a literate screenplay (writers include Edward Bond), stunning camerawork and the cream of 1960s British acting in their droves......Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Michael Bryant, Vivian Pickles, Alan Webb, Ian Holm, John Wood, Jack Hawkins, John McEnery, Timothy West, Eric Porter......The list is endless, and that's just the supporting players.
Michael Jayston gives the performance of his screen career as the weak, misguided Tsar who'd have much rather been a gentleman farmer and family man. Quite why this fine, fine actor never became a huge star I'll never understand. The scene after he has abdicated and breaks down like a frightened child is a masterpiece of acting.
Tom Baker, whose big break this should have been, plays the Siberian mystic, healer and libertine, Grigory Rasputin. Baker had been part of Olivier's National Theatre company at the Old Vic, but it would be a certain long-scarfed time travellerson TV that would make him a household name a few years later.
Rasputin was an enigma, and Baker plays him as such. His murder by decadent princelings is one of this film's great set pieces.
There are many of these, as the film covers the last year's of Imperial Russia, concentrating on the very human story of the Tsar and his family, culminating in the ghastly massacre in Ekaterinburg.
Their story interwoven with that of the Russian people and their woes. Tsar Nicholas may be portrayed sympathetically but he is not exonerated when it comes to who was to blame. A weak man, clinging to what he sees as his divine right to autocratic power, he nevertheless grows in wisdom and self-awareness, but....sadly......too late. It's a fine performance.
Roughly three hours long, "Nicholas and Alexandra" is nevertheless a whistlestop tour of the story, with situations streamlined and characters mere thumbnail sketches, particularly the revolutionaries. The scope and the scenery are enormous. This really is the last of the great historical epics. There would be nothing like this until "Gandhi" over a decade later.
There are a number of very negative reviews of this film here on Amazon, with reviewers describing it as boring and flat. While I can't agree with either of those adjectives, I can concede that certain of the finishing touches....particularly the hark back to those overblown, deadly dull epics of the 1960s. The music is a mistake, too reminiscent of "Doctor Zhivago" without having that score's genius.
Inevitably this 1971 film must be compared unfavourable with Lean's, made only 6 years earlier. "Zhivago" was turned into primarily a great love story, and this film tries to do the same with Nicholas and Alexandra, a couple in early middle age, who still love each other in spite of everything. They simply have been allotted the wrong roles in life.
My one serious reservation about this film is in its portrayal of the Empress Alexandra. Janet Suzman was, and still is, a great actress, one of her generation's finest, but here she is miscast.
Alexandra was NOT English, as one reviewer here claims. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, but her father was a minor German royal. Her mother died when she was a child, and Victoria took over her upbringing to a certain extent. The result was that "Sunny" as she was nicknamed spoke English and had English tastes, but she remained a German princess.
That nickname did not suit her in later life. She and Nicholas adored each other but she did not adore being the Empress of Russia, feeling isolated and disliked by the Establishment. She became increasingly neurotic and self-absorbed as well as physically frail. Before the Revolution her children rarely saw her. In the film she is depicted as obsessed with her status and religion, particularly her dependence on Rasputin. This is all true, but what we don't see is her physical incapacitation. As played by Janet Suzman, she is simply too beautiful, too likeable, too loving.
To sum up, this is a fine, intelligent, absorbing epic drama, but also an intimate human one. It has its faults, but compare it with many of the epics that came before it ("Cleopatra") and those made more recently ( "Mary Queen of Scots") it's a minor masterpiece.
This DVD is the complete film, all the minor cuts made over the years now restored. It seems to have been remastered, and the picture is brighter and more colourful than I remember it.
The soundtrack isn't that good......I had to turn the volume up very high.
One person found this helpful
stufilmReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 April 2022
3.0 out of 5 stars
It’s big, it’s long and it’s a spectacle !
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That about sums it up! -Tom Baker’s Rasputin wasn’t developed enough - he was a vile individual but an interesting one, and the makers could have elaborated more on how his influence over Alexandra was one of the reasons that the Russian people never trusted her - but all in all overlong in parts, staged acting, excellent score, stunning costumes, brilliant settings, Michael Jayson was excellent in the role coz he looks like the Tzar, and acted brilliantly but the worst acting came from Roderic Noble who takes the part of Alexis Romanov - my God he was awful and at times I was kinda thinking why the producers had chosen such a bad actor to play the role, when at the time it was filmed child actors like Jack wild or even Mark Lester could have taken that role far more efficiently- but watch it - it’s close to 3 hours and whilst the ending is historically predictable, you tend to have enormous sympathy, yet at the same time dislike of a family who are sucked into a series of circumstances mainly caused by poor decisions made by the easily influenced Tzar!
F. L. P. SouzaReviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 August 2017
2.0 out of 5 stars
What is wrong with this picture?
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The story of Nicholas and Alexandra deserves something much better than this, and Franklin J. Schaffner can do much better (he gave us fine works such as The War Lord, Planet of the Apes (the first and best film of the over-extended franchise), Papillon and Patton). We've had good films about Russia and the Communist Revolution (Reds, Doctor Zhivago, to name just two); this one is far below the others.

This is surely Schaffner's worst picture: it is totally boring, the good actors deliver awful performances (sure sign of a badly directed film), the film lacks rhythm. The only value lies in the fact that it is mostly true to actual history, and perhaps therein lies one of the reasons why it is such a poor piece of cinema. Nicholas and Alexandra were both, by all accounts, frightfully boring people. In that sense, perhaps the actors were trying to remain true to the real-life characters they were portraying.

The main fault, however, does lie with the director. Scenes are poorly put together, the film does not flow. There is no drama, no suspense, no build-up of tension to a climax. The whole thing feels rather bureaucratic and wooden, as if the crew had no passion about what they were doing.

I wonder what went wrong. Schaffner is capable of doing much better. Did he get into conflicts with the producers? Did they cut his original work to reduce the film in length, thereby robbing it of its original rhythm? There are two or three scenes in the entire movie where you can tell that there is intelligent life behind the camera; it's a pity that these scenes represent just 5% of the total screening time.

Perhaps the problem was that to film the whole story properly, you would actually need it to be 5 hours long. It is better suited to be told as a television mini-series in 10 episodes, where each important occurrence could be properly developed. Until somebody decides to make such a series, with a gifted director and cast, we have to make do with the "N&A" that is available. It is still worth seeing, for its historical value; but as cinema it is quite a disaster.
6 people found this helpful
RogShopReviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 October 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
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This region Free Blu Ray is absolutely amazing. Just by sheer chance did I stumble across this Spanish release of "Nicholas And Alexandra" whilst looking to purchase the American Twilight Time release of the movie.....which Amazon did not stock.....and originally rejected it. Its a Spanish release right - WRONG. Whilst the box cover is in Spanish (as is the disc menus) THE ACTUAL MOVIE HAS ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND ALL THE CAPTION/CREDITS ETC ARE IN WRITTEN ENGLISH! Also the standard of picture and sound quality I would rate 4.5 out of 5. Beautiful deep rich colours that shine - Blacks are dense without crush, reds are vibrant and flesh tones look totally normal. The resoloution is at once very noticeably higher from the standard DVD and detail excellent and there is hardly an ounce of grain to be seen so the picture has a wonderful filmic visual content - especially visible on the lavish oscar winning costumes and sets. The sound is DTS HD MASTER and although only mono, automatically clicked into a psuado mono surround mode on my THX amp.

The story of the doomed reign and downfall of the Romanov dynasty is beautifully acted by Michael Jayston and Janet Suzman with strong support from Tom Baker as Rasputin, Lynne Frederick and Fiona Fullerton will be recogised as two of the Tsar's 4 daughters whilst a host of other great acting talents will be spotted throughout. Presented in a full 2:35:1 Cinemascope ratio you will be captivated for the entire 3 hour running time.

I did find the Region free English Twighlight Time release on ebay for £26. This Spanish release (probably identical) cost just £10 - cheaper than a UK blu ray! I have since purchases Spanish Blu Rays of "The Fearless Vampire Killers" and "Anne of The 1000 Days" (NOT AVAILABLE ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD IT WOULD SEEM) and also "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" which according to the box cover on the Amazon page purports to be in a 16:9 widescreen ratio with 2 channel Dolby sound (which is hopefully a step up from the 4:3 matted Cinemascope presentation released in UK with single channel and horrendous sound)

But I digress - the moral of the tale here is.....If you find what you are looking for in Blu Ray as a Spanish release DONT DISCOUNT it as chances are you will be thrilled with your purchase
14 people found this helpful
Castle ReviewsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 July 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good But........
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This is a film which lacks that a certain authenticity. It does tell an interesting story rather well, but it lacks depth. So what is wrong with the film? I find the actor Michael Jayston does not cut an authentic role as the Tsar. Every time I watch the film I never feel that Jayston is anything more than an actor playing a role. He looks like the Tsar, but that's about it. As he plays the pivotal role in this film, it does spoil the authenticity and so enjoyment. Whilst it is clear this was shot on a budget, it still has some lavish scenes and it does give an idea of the splendour and pomp of the Romanov regime. The script is OK, but as I said earlier, it just lacks something and I never get drawn into the scenes as you can do with great films.

Overall this tells the story of a doomed man and his family. It never quite convinces me it's true to life, but if you want to watch a kind of biopic then this is the film. I am happy to Recommend it with reservations about the acting.
6 people found this helpful
AntresorReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 December 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
What Bolshevism means
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A very sad story of the weak but stubborn Nicholas - the fanatically religious Alexandra - and their innocent (to the point of naivete ) family. The final part of the film suggests that the assassin of the Tsar was a sympathetic old chap but one entirely convinced of the rightness of Bolshevism - a fanatic capable of any frightfulness in the name of his belief.
A dazzling caste
Nicholas CasleyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 May 2012
4.0 out of 5 stars
Grand Tale on an Epic Scale
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I was six when this film first came out. I'm not sure if I saw it at the cinema or on the TV a few years later, but it lodged a memory in my head and probably introduced to me for the first time - and in vivid form - a love of Russian history. So it was good to revisit the film on DVD.

`Nicholas and Alexandra' came after the sweeping epic of David Lean's Dr Zhivago (1965). It was a time when the giant tales of history were popular at the box office, whether it was Caesar and Cleopatra or Becket and Henry II, but Russian history, more than any other (apart perhaps from Chinese), seems to naturally demand a grand stage for its tales, a stage as metaphorically large as the country itself.

This 180-minute film from 1971 allows for plenty of detail. (There is a three-minute intermission as the troops march off to war in 1914.) Presented in widescreen, and based on the book by Robert Massie, it tells the story of the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia from the time of the birth of their son Alexei in 1904. It ends with their deaths in 1918, the last hour of the film following the Tsar's abdication.

Its historical veracity - at least in outline - is made manifest by only a short list of inaccuracies posted on the Internet Movie Database website. Ultimately it takes no sides: whilst showing Nicholas's humanity, it also makes plain his arrogant disdain for the condition of his people.

The film comes with high production values and is beautifully shot on a grand scale. I was never bored watching this film. Michael Jayston and Janet Suzman are excellent in the main roles and are very natural in their intimacy. There is a fine supporting cast, including Tom Baker as Rasputin. There are many names down the cast list that would later find greater fame, such as, Brian Cox, Ian Holm, Diana Quick, Timothy West, and John Wood.

For sure it's not all royal pomp. After all, the film is half-concerned with the intimate family relations of the Romanovs. We see also the seamier side of early-twentieth-century Russian economic life, but these are, alas, token scenes to explain the origins of the revolution and are thus a little contrived and idealised. But if I had to change one thing it would be to cut before the final shots are fired: I think this would have had more of an impact.

The disc, alas, comes with no extras. It would have been nice to have known where many of the scenes were shot.
6 people found this helpful
Settle manReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 May 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
What and absolutely stunning and brilliantly acted film
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What and absolutely stunning and brilliantly acted film. Almost took you back to pre-soviet Russia with Nicholas as the Tsar and Queen Victoria's granddaughter Alexandra as his wife.
Each part is played to perfection from Michael Jayston as Nicholas and Harry Andrews as head of the army.
Some of the scenes are so stunning and realistic that you can almost feel the cold from the Siberian weather where they are sent to be killed.
The children do not figure much in the movie except Alexei (the Tsarevitch) who is an haemophiliac and of course this brings the royal family into contact with Rasputin (Tom Baker) played with wide-eyed excellence by the way.
I am fascinated by history and cannot read or see enough of it and this made my night's watching really pleasurable.
Add to that there is even an intermission on the DVD for that cup of tea but the film does not drag or even linger on any subject.

Bear this one thing in mind when the Bolsheviks killed this group of people THEY HAD KILLED THE ROYAL FAMILY!!!
2 people found this helpful
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