Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1997) - Video/DVD Review for History Teachers | Student Handouts
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Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1997)
Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1997) Review and Guide for History Educators Length: 44 minutes

Age appropriateness: Biography's "Rasputin: The Mad Monk" is officially rated "TV-PG" in the United States. However, the narration regarding some of Rasputin's sexual escapades should keep this video restricted to high school classrooms (junior high students will erupt in blushes and giggles).

Creators and stars: Bill Ratner, Bram Roos, Carla Soviero, David M. Frank, Dr. Alex de Jonge, Dr. Joseph T. Fuhrmann, Edward Radzinsky, Greg King, Jordan Friedberg, Paul Boorstin, Peter Kurth, Thomas Fuchs, Vaughn Johnson

Accuracy: "Rasputin: The Mad Monk" is historically accurate. It touches upon pre-revolutionary Russia, the Romanovs, and the Russian Revolution. Like so many of these hour-long television programs from A&E, History Channel, and Biography, this video relies on commentary from historians and other experts, along with narration including quotes from leading figures of the time period, laid over historical photographs and other images.

Review: "Rasputin: The Mad Monk" is an entertaining documentary that looks at Grigori Rasputin, the faith healer whom many have blamed for the downfall of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. Rasputin is a fascinating historical figure for all of the obvious reasons, not least of which was how much it took to finally kill him.

From an educative standpoint, the life of Rasputin provides a link between turn-of-the-last-century Russia and the Russian Revolution. Unfortunately, this documentary does very little to illustrate the poor socio-economic conditions that caused the Russians to overthrow their tsar. Watching this program and nothing else, students might get the wrongful impression that Rasputin alone caused the downfall of the imperial government. But used wisely along with numerous other instructional materials, "Rasputin: The Mad Monk" can help to pique students' interest while giving some background on the causes of the Russian Revolution.
Review and discussion questions: (1) When Rasputin was eight years old, what happened to his brother? (2) What did Rasputin learn during the years he spent traveling to Russia's holy sites? (3) How did Rasputin behave in his personal life? (4) What major conflict did Russia enter in 1914? (5) How did Rasputin influence the Russian government while the tsar was leading troops along the front lines? (6) How did Rasputin die? (7) What eventually happened to the imperial family? (8) How might you explain Rasputin's alleged healing powers? (9) Could a "holy man" like Rasputin influence powerful world leaders today? Why or why not? (10) Locate the following on a map: Russia, Siberia, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Pokrovskoye.

Vocabulary terms and names: Alexander Protopopov, assassination, conspiracy, faith healer, Felix Yusupov, Grigori Rasputin, healing, hemophilia, hypnosis, hypnotize, imperial family, influence, informality, legend, Macari, miraculous, monastery, monk, peasants, reality, Romanov dynasty, Russia, Russian Revolution, salacious, scandal, seduce, Siberia, spiritual, St. Petersburg, Straniki, Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarevich Alexei, Tsarina Alexandra, vision, World War I
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"Rasputin: The Mad Monk" Video/DVD Review Publication Date for Citation Purposes: July 8, 2012