Today: 22 September 2018
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Matilda: the countdown point

Matilda: the countdown point

Tags: Religion, Orthodoxy, History, Cinema

Prior to the release of the director Alexei Uchitel's film "Matilda" there was one month left. Nezavisimaya Gazeta appealed to the chairman of the Patriarchal Council for Culture, bishop Egorievsky Tikhon (Shevkunov) with a request to express his personal point of view, and if possible, the official position of the ROC on the conflict around the film "Matilda".

Before we start talking about not yet appeared on the screens, but caused so many storms and, admittedly, pretty much all the pre-finished film "Matilda", I would like to recall that at the beginning of this year there was an unprecedentedly wide screening of another film, also dedicated to a real historical character, who was also the head of the Russian state and also glorified as a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Rushing to the whole country "Viking" in contrast to "Matilda" did not cause any mass protests. There were no demonstrations, no demands of the ban (with the exception of a few individual letters). And this despite the fact that his protagonist - the Grand Duke Vladimir Svyatoslavich - is shown in the film during his life before the adoption of Christianity as a wild monster: he kills his brother Yaropolk, rapes in front of his parents Polotsk princess Rogneda, and then kills her father, builds pagan temples and brings idols to human victims. And for all that, this masterfully photographed naturalistic film story does not cause protests in the whole country or in the church environment. But the "innocent", it would seem, film story about a youth novel The heir to the Russian throne and the ballerina of the imperial theaters responded in society and 100-thousand petitions demanding the film's ban, and demonstrations, and lawsuits. I'm not talking about extreme excesses - but this is a topic either medical or criminal.

So what happens? The answer seems clear enough. In the case of the "Viking" the authors of the film presented on the screen a very bitter but true story. About this unsightly truth we are told by the ancient chronicles and lives. They inform the descendants of the truly horrendous image of Prince Vladimir before his baptism, and only then they talk about his amazing transformation from a pagan monster into that merciful, wise and powerful Vladimir Krasno Solnyshko, who has been so honored and loved by our people for more than 1000 years.

In the case of "Matilda", unfortunately, everything happens differently. The plot and script of the film are based on a lie. And many, having got acquainted with the widely advertised trailer of the movie in the Internet or, as I happened to read the script, this lie was felt especially sharply. Why? And that is why, of course, that for a considerable number of people the last Russian Emperor is a holy martyr. And that's why, no matter how differently one treats Nicholas II, one can not but admit that over the last 100 years, such streams of slander, slander, and filth that none of our compatriots have received, were poured on him. Today, when objective information about our history is available, the usual stereotypes about the last Tsar and his Family for many are collapsing. Some have replaced Soviet cliches with superfluous idealization. But the majority of sober-minded people are reviewing the values ​​in the direction of an objective assessment, based on the true facts of history.

And now on the anniversary of the Russian revolutions there is a film in which again - an obvious lie. And fabrications, alas, concern the private life of Nicholas II, his relationship with his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Even in the Soviet period, this topic was not subjected to distortions for the sake of ideological conjuncture, self-respecting researchers. And today in this issue there is perhaps the only case of full agreement among historians of diametrically opposed beliefs, schools and trends: all are unanimous in that the relations between Nikolai Alexandrovich and Alexandra Fedorovna were filled with the highest love, absolute fidelity, responsibility, tenderness and care. Their striking depths and strengths could not be shaken by anybody and nothing, no the most terrible, unthinkable trials that fell to the lot of this family.

But what about Matilda Kshesinskaya? Quite often critics of the plot of the film are accused of denying the very fact of the romantic relationship of the Heir and the young dancer. In fact, this is a juggling. Nobody denies that such a relationship really existed.

With 18-year-old Matilda Feliksovna Kshesinskaya, the heir, who was then 22 year old, met in a difficult period of his life: a girl whom he had recently for ever and unconditionally loved at first sight, Hesse-Darmstadt Princess Alice (in a few years she will become his wife - Empress Alexandra Fedorovna), then denied him, because she did not find it possible to change the religion - to move from Protestantism to Orthodoxy, of which she had the most vague ideas.

Meanwhile, according to the laws of the Russian Empire, this was mandatory for the future tsarina. In addition, his father, Alexander III, firmly opposed the choice of his son: the Emperor had other views on the marriage of the heir.

And so, rejected by his beloved girl, who received strict admonition from his father about the impossibility of a desired marriage, Tsarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich allowed himself to fall in love with a talented ballerina. What were their relations? Some historians say that young people were very close. Others argue that the connection was only platonic. Be that as it may, in the end, this is not our business. They communicated with 1892 for 1894 year. And in the spring of 1894, Princess Alice finally agreed to become Nicholas's wife; consent to their marriage was given and Alexander III. Nikolai Alexandrovich was immensely happy. Parting with Matilda happened without dramas and tears: he asked for her forgiveness, promised to help in everything. They decided to remain forever sincere friends, turn to each other for "you" ... But - in correspondence. Full-time communication was torn once and for all in the same 1894 year, in which the engagement took place, and then the wedding of Nikolai and Alexandra.

Nikolai considered it his duty to tell the bride about Matilda. That's what Alix wrote to her fiancé after these difficult confessions: "I love you even more since you told me this story. Your trust so deeply touches me ... Will I be worthy of it? "

The period from 1894-th - when Princess Alice arrives in Russia, goes to Orthodoxy and marries with Nicholas II, who has just become the Emperor of Russia, - until 1896, which ends the film narration, were the most serene and happy in the life of a young married couple.

And what happens in the script of the film, presented to the public neither more nor less than "the main historical blockbuster of the year"? And in it all this time, Nikolai rushes in suffering, hysteria and intimate scenes between Matilda and Alexandra, between Alexandra and Matilda ...

Well, they supplement such a "historical canvas" with such dramatic finds as, for example, an episode in which Alexandra Feodorovna, like a gloomy fury, with a sharp knife goes to Matilda to extract her blood. Or the amusing movie of Alexander III: in the life of the extraordinary noble, alien to every vulgarity of the Sovereign, the filmmakers are forced to declare that he is "the only Romanov who did not live with dancers" ...

I will not multiply bitter examples. In general, the story boils down to the fact that Nicholas, of course, loves the democratic, bold, free-thinking Matilda, but "for the sake of duty and the throne" marries Alexandra - and makes her heart love her. In general, this is the adaptation of the famous song: "Everyone can have kings," except to marry for love.

As it became known, a few months ago the script of the film was submitted for review to two well-known historians, with the permission of which I put here their brief summary.

"On the script of the full-length film" Matilda "
(scriptwriter: Alexander Terekhov)

Seriously to disassemble this work is not necessary, and it is impossible. The script of the film "Matilda" has nothing to do with the historical events, about which it is told, except that only the names of the heroes correspond to reality, and the Heir of the Tsesarevich had an affair with Matilda Kshesinskaya. In the rest - a continuous fiction of the worst taste. Already the first scene causes a smile and a strong bewilderment. Matilda Kshesinskaya did not run up to the choirs of the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin during the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, did not shout: "Nicky, Nicky!", And the Emperor himself did not faint. All this is the fiction of the authors of the script, resurrecting in memory the lines from the famous novel by Ilf and Petrov: "The Countess with a changed face is running a pond." Only in Ilf and Petrov it is a grotesque and irony, and in the scenario - a harsh "truth" of the life of heroes, as it seems to the author.

The script is teeming with fictions of the worst taste, which have nothing to do with real events, much less with the feelings of heroes. That there is only a scene when the father of Nicholas Emperor Alexander III chooses for his son a mistress from the ballerinas of the Mariinsky Theater. Do I need to explain that such vulgarity could only have been born in the mind of a person who has no idea of ​​the real relationship in the Royal Family, and even in the court environment.

Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna ranked the Russian Orthodox Church to the image of the saints as passion-bearers. But holiness is not sterility. And in their lives there were different situations (for example, relations with Rasputin), and their activities are estimated in different ways by historians. There was only one thing - vulgarity and dirt. Namely the vulgarity and dirt of the lowest posh is given by the author of the script for historical truth.

President of the History Department
Moscow State University. M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University,
professor, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences S.P. Karpov.

Head of the Department of Russian History of the XIX century - early XX century
historical faculty of Moscow State University. M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University,
Professor S.V. Mironenko.


The director of the film Alexey Uchitel repeatedly stated that he did not and does not have any intention to offend the memory of Nicholas II. And what is represented in the plot of the film is nothing more than an artistic fiction, without which no historical painting can do. There is no reason not to believe Alexei Efimovich. Only dare to recall the utterance of the ascetic of the 7th century, St. Isaac the Syrian: "Every thing is painted with a measure. Without measure, he turns to harm and is revered as beautiful. " There is no doubt that the artist has the right to creative fiction. The only question is to what extent this right to apply, so that the work becomes part of a high culture.

In discussions about "Matilde" those who defend the presumption of the boundless freedom of the artist's work often remember in vain the great names, in particular, Pushkin, Tolstoy. In vain are such examples! Just in the "Captain's Daughter", and in "War and Peace" we have before us examples of a brilliant measure of the most careful attitude to history and to its personalities in the artistic reconstruction of historical events.

"Fiction is not a fraud" - we remember these words of Bulat Okudzhava. Artistic fiction should never be a fraud. For no reason. No matter how creative, dramatic and aesthetic reasons this fraud would try to justify. It is inconceivable to imagine that the author, for example, would make Catherine II the mistress of Pugachev for the sake of betraying some special "creativity" of the plot in "The Captain's Daughter", and in "War and Peace" for a greater "dramatic tension" the writer burst out of "inspiration" would Napoleon, and then burned not only Moscow, but also St. Petersburg. And what? Nothing personal, just an artistic fiction. After all, the author (or, as they now like to say, "the creator") has every right ...

As for the official position of the Russian Orthodox Church in relation to the film Matilda, it was expressed by me as the chairman of the Patriarchal Council for Culture last year in Rossiyskaya Gazeta: we will not demand the banning of the film, considering this way dead-end. But we reserve the right to refute untruth and inform to those who want to hear, a reliable story about this period of life of the holy martyr Tsar Nicholas. Also, the unconditional position of the Russian Orthodox Church is the repeatedly expressed condemnation of any extremist actions, drawn to the discussion about this film.

I will not talk about insulting religious feelings in this article - this stuff is really too shaky, especially when it is backed up by the article of the Criminal Code. But I would like to sharpen the issue of the insult of the sense of historical truth, which is not subject to any criminal punishment. On the artist's responsibility - moral, not more, - for the obvious historical untruth, which leads to unnecessary social conflicts like today's.

And, finally, the last. If a large number of my compatriots today feel vexed and personally offended at a meeting with historical untruth, if they consider it important for themselves to stand up for the honor of their history, for the honor of their long-departed great and small fellow citizens, using first of all a discussion, and if they deem it necessary, and their legitimate civil rights, is a good, very good sign.

A movie? In a month it will be shown on the screens of many Russian cities. Separately, it should be noted that "Matilda" is the only feature film created in our country for the 100 anniversary of the revolutions. It is this film production with such a plot and with such an author's approach that it will most clearly signify the feasibility for present Russian cinema art, and in many ways for our society, the scale of understanding the most tragic and fateful events in our new and modern history.

But maybe this will at least become a point of countdown?

Bishop Egorievsky Tikhon (Shevkunov)
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