Agony (film)

Poster Agoniya.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byElem Klimov
Produced byElem Klimov
Written bySemyon Lungin
Ilya Nusinov
StarringAleksei Petrenko
Alisa Freindlich
Velta Līne
Anatoli Romashin
Music byAlfred Schnittke
CinematographyLeonid Kalashnikov
Edited byValeria Belova
Distributed byRuscico, Russia (current);
Kino International (dvd, North America)
Release date
1982 Venice Film Festival
1982 Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland
1983 Sweden, Great Britain, France
1985 Soviet Union, United States
Running time
151 minutes (international release 1982)
CountrySoviet Union

Agony (Russian: Агония, romanizedAgoniya; U.S. theatrical/DVD title Rasputin) is a film by Elem Klimov, made c.1973-75 and released in Western and Central Europe in 1982 (United States and Soviet Union 1985), after protracted resistance from Soviet authorities. The film is notable for its rich, sometimes baroque style, its sumptuous recreation of episodes from the final year of Imperial Russia and the psychological portraits of Grigori Rasputin and the Imperial family.


The storyline of the film follows the final months of 1916 up to the murder of Rasputin; some events have been telescoped into this time though they actually happened earlier, during the war. Rasputin's effect on people around him is shown as almost hypnotic, and the film avoids taking a moral stance towards him—breaking not only with Soviet history but also with how he was regarded by people near the court at the time, some of whom regarded him as a debilitating figure who disgraced the monarchy and hampered the war effort.[1]



As evidenced by the scenography and photography, the resources for the film appear to have been lavish, but once finished the film was declared unsuitable for release; the reasons were evidently to do with the way the imperial family is portrayed.[2] In this film Nicholas II is shown as weak and indecisive rather than brutal, and this did not square with the way the period had been retold in Soviet historiography and schoolbooks.[3] Furthermore, the Bolsheviks make no appearance at all in the film, though it takes place during the final months of the empire, when the state was drifting toward revolution. This is historically truthful; the Bolsheviks had a very low level of activity in Russia during the First World War, as most of their leaders were abroad or in prison and at the time they made no real, organized contribution to the unrest until after Lenin had returned in April 1917, by which time the Tsar had already been deposed. This was something Soviet history would not recognize; instead Lenin would be portrayed as the wise general of the upheaval from the start, and the Bolsheviks as the mass party of the working classes. Finally, the prominence of sexuality and sectarian religion in the film were hard to stomach for Soviet censors.[4][5]


The film went unshown until 1981, when it was screened at the Moscow Film Festival and attracted very favourable reviews. Released in Western Europe, Czechoslovakia,[6][7] Hungary,[8] Poland[9][10] in 1982, it was hailed as one of the most original Soviet films of the 1970s.[citation needed] It was screened later in 1985, at the dawn of the Glasnost era. The versions released in the 1980s, and later on DVD, differ somewhat in length and the final voice-over newsreel shots of the 1917 revolution may have been added in to appease Soviet authorities.[11] The original mid-1970s cut does not seem to have survived, and it is unclear how much was rewritten or possibly reshot after 1975.


  1. ^ «Агония» двух империй. «Новая газета» N2, 15.01.2004
  2. ^ О.Платонов. Жизнь за Царя (Правда о Григории Распутине)
  3. ^ В. А. Жуковская. Мои воспоминания о Григории Ефимовиче Распутине 1914—1916 гг.
  4. ^ The Real Tsaritsa by Lily Dehn.
  5. ^ Рассулин Ю. Ю. Верная Богу, Царю и Отечеству. — Saint-Petersburg: Царское Дело, 2005.
  6. ^ anderson (2011-08-10). "Agónie - konec Rasputina". Film (in Czech and Slovak). Česko-Slovenská filmová databáze.
  7. ^ Vlach, Zdeněk (2010-01-09). "Agónie konec Rasputina". Plakát (in Czech). Antikvariát Dana Kurovce. Archived from the original on 2012-05-01.
  8. ^ Spiró, György (1982-12-01). "Remekmű a léten túlról (Agónia)". Filmvilág. 1982 (12): 10–13.
  9. ^ Dipont, Małgorzata (1982-05-09). "Agonia". Film (in Polish). RSW Prasa-Książka- Ruch. 7/1714: 14. ISSN 0137-463X.
  10. ^ Schonborn, Jerzy (1982). "Randez-vous z Griszką Rasputinem". Film (in Polish). RSW Prasa-Książka- Ruch. 1982 (23): 6. ISSN 0137-463X.
  11. ^ http://www.eutorrents.com/drama/2010/agony-1981.html

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