Watch The Assassin of the Tsar
- 1 hr 38 min
The Assassin of the Tsar is a 1991 film that tells the story of Yakov Yurovsky, the man responsible for the assassination of Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918. The movie is a fictionalized account of Yurovsky's life and his decision to carry out the monumental crime. The film is directed by Karen Shakhnazarov and stars Malcolm McDowell, Oleg Yankovskiy, and Armen Dzhigarkhanyan.
The film is set in 1976, and McDowell stars as Timofeyev, an elderly patient in a mental institution who claims to be Yurovsky. As he tells the story of the assassination to his psychiatrist, the film flashes back to the events of 1918, when Yurovsky was a Bolshevik revolutionary tasked with guarding the Tsar and his family. Determined to rid Russia of the royal family, Yurovsky convinces his fellow revolutionaries to carry out the assassination. The plan goes awry, however, and Yurovsky is left to deal with the aftermath of the massacre.
The Assassin of the Tsar is a visually stunning film, with sweeping panoramic shots of the Russian countryside juxtaposed against the grim reality of the revolution. The film is expertly shot, and the cinematography captures the tension and violence of the time period. The costumes and set design are also top-notch, transporting the viewer to a time and place that feels both foreign and familiar.
At its heart, the film is a character study of Yurovsky, a man whose ideals are put to the test as he grapples with the weight of his actions. McDowell gives an outstanding performance as the haunted revolutionary, conveying the fear and guilt that plague Yurovsky as he reflects on his past. Yankovskiy is also excellent as Nicholas II, portraying the doomed Tsar with quiet dignity and sorrow.
Although the film is primarily a drama, there are moments of black comedy peppered throughout. The scenes in which Yurovsky and his comrades attempt to dispose of the bodies of the Tsar and his family are macabrely humorous, highlighting the absurdity of their situation. Additionally, the interactions between Timofeyev and his psychiatrist provide some much-needed levity, breaking up the otherwise heavy subject matter.
One of the strengths of the film is its portrayal of the Bolshevik revolutionaries as complex, flawed individuals rather than one-dimensional villains. Although they are portrayed as ruthless killers, the film also shows their idealism and passion for a better society. Yurovsky's disillusionment with the revolution is a powerful theme in the film, as he realizes that the cause he fought for has led to nothing but bloodshed and chaos.
In terms of pacing, the film can be slow in parts, particularly in the scenes set in the mental institution. However, the story picks up steam once the flashbacks to 1918 begin. The final act of the film is especially gripping, as Yurovsky faces his own mortality and comes to terms with the enormity of his actions.
Overall, The Assassin of the Tsar is a remarkable film that offers a new perspective on one of history's most notorious crimes. McDonald's performance as Yurovsky is a standout, and the film succeeds in portraying the complexities of the Bolshevik revolution and its aftermath. While the pacing can be slow at times, the visual and thematic strengths of the film more than make up for it. Highly recommended for fans of historical dramas and character-driven stories.
The Assassin of the Tsar is a 1991 history movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 38 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8.