The mad monk is coming back into vogue as two separate films are in development based on the final days of the life of the infamous Russian mystic Grigori Efimovich Rasputin.
Rasputin of course was the priest and healer who had major influence over Russian Czar Nicholas II and his wife due to his ability to treat their son’s haemophilia. Deeply opposed to war, he nevertheless became famous for his sinful appetites, political manipulations and of course his legendary murder.
According to Variety, the first film is entitled “Raspoutine”, a $12 million French/Russian-language TV co-production starring Gerard Depardieu. Shooting kicks off on that 100-minute version in December in Moscow and St Petersburg.
The second is an English-language $25 million feature entitled “Rasputin: The Healer” from Legende. Roselyn Bosch (“The Roundup”) penned and will direct the European production which is scheduled for release Fall 2011. Alain Goldman produces.
Both films are expected to be based on the last two years of Rasputin’s life – from 1914 to 1916. If so they will likely cover his stabbing and near death in 1914 (coincidentally around the same time Franz Ferdinand was shot thus igniting WW1), his increasing influence over the Tsaritsa and Government while the Tsar was away on the front, and his ultimate drowning in the icy Neva River after surviving being beaten, poisoned and shot four times.
Alan Rickman, Christopher Lee, Tom Baker, Christopher Lloyd, Karel Roden, Gert Frobe and Boris Karloff have all portrayed quite varied versions of the man over the years on film.