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The Russian Revolution is trending thanks to 'The Last Czars'

If you like your history with dollops of drama, this series, podcast and book about the Romanovs and Rasputin are for you

28 July 2019 - 00:00
By AND Sylvia McKeown
Susanna Herbert and Robert Jack in 'The Last Czar'
Image: Supplied Susanna Herbert and Robert Jack in 'The Last Czar'

Rasputin was often referred to as the devil. Perhaps because of his legendary influence over Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia, or maybe because of the rumoured enormity of his nether regions.

During his lifetime, it was the protruding bump on his head, which Russians thought was a horn trying to poke its way out.

The truth behind the horn is even more amusing.

Rasputin, drunk, one day tried to steal his neighbour's fence. His neighbour caught him and a battle ensued, which ended with the neighbour walloping the drunk over the head with a piece of the fence. The bump remained for the rest of his life.

There are many stories like this surrounding the Russian Revolution. Witches, secrets hidden in blood, unfit rulers, and missing daughters abound. It was a time of opulence that would make Trump's 18-karat-gold toilet blush, and it played out in contrast with a world of brutality and poverty.

Now, a little over a century later, The Romanovs and their legacy are trending in many formats. If you like your history with dollops of drama, these are for you:

WATCH

The Last Czars, Netflix

The Romanov family is front and centre in this docu-drama series that dropped on Netflix a few weeks ago.

Historians help you navigate the multi-layered repercussions of choices made by Tsar Nicholas II that would spell doom for the Romanov dynasty.

Robert Jack and Susanna Herbert, who play the tsar and tsarina, breathe life into the flawed choices of the real-life royals. The acting and script are campy and overly dramatic but a revolution that cost millions of lives is dramatic subject matter.

LISTEN

The Last Podcast on the Left: Episode 310 - 313, Rasputin

Ever wondered how Ra-Ra-Rasputin became the rumoured lover of the Russian queen? Discover the complex and strange history of the man in this comedy podcast.

Although "Last Pod" is known for its amusing, yet factual coverage of all manner of things murder and intrigue, this four-part series is some of their best work. Researcher Marcus Parks, along with host Ben Kissel, weave an intricate tale of the Mad Monk; and comedian Henry Zebrowski will have you snickering as he cackles and mad-libs as various historical figures in the story.

READ

The Witches of St Petersburg, a novel by Imogen Edwards-Jones

There's nothing like a bit of a séance to liven up a party. Edward-Jones's novel is a fun romp inspired by two real-life side characters in the revolution. Militza and Stana, Montenegrin princesses, find themselves married into the Romanov court and befriending a lonely, depressed tsarina.

Together the sisters take her into the world of the occult (a fascination of courtly ladies at the time), and also introduce her to the mysterious shaman, our guy Rasputin, which seals the sisters' fate.

It's an interesting take on a big moment in history filled with the voices of the men that led to the country's downfall. The darker female touch is in steamy scenes, and the gossip-fueled social climbing of black-magic-skilled women in corseted gowns.