History's Mysteries: The True Story of Rasputin (2000) - DVD/Video Review for History Teachers | Student Handouts
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History's Mysteries: The True Story of Rasputin (2000)
History's Mysteries: The True Story of Rasputin (A&E, 2000) Review and Guide for History Educators Length: 42 minutes

Age appropriateness: "History's Mysteries: The True Story of Rasputin" is not officially rated in the United States. Given the salacious nature of Rasputin's behavior, we recommend saving this video for high school students. Talk of orgies and drunkenness can be incredibly awkward and distracting for kids in junior high school.

Creators and stars: Alex de Jonge, Alicia Ulrich, Andrew Ciancia, Arthur Kent, Craig Constantine, David Ackroyd, Dr. Joseph T. Fuhrmann, Edvard Radzinsky, Gary H. Grossman, Gregg King, Michael Andreas, Robb Weller, Robert K. Massie, Steve Lange, Teresa Modnick

Accuracy: This documentary is fairly thin in terms of historical content given its length, but what is presented is basically accurate. The role Rasputin played at court and in the public mind is discussed, but much more attention is paid to Rasputin's lustful appetites.

Review: "History's Mysteries: The True Story of Rasputin" is largely a regurgitation of 1997's "Rasputin: The Mad Monk," even featuring most of the same interviewees. The real difference between these two programs is the fact that Edvard Radzinsky acquired the Rasputin file through a Sotheby's auction and published a book on it in 2000, which coincides with the production and release of this documentary. The only significant contribution that the release of the Rasputin file seems to make is an excuse to delve more deeply into how bizarre and salacious Rasputin was. A&E/History Channel/Biography Channel always seem to push the books of their programs' lead interviewee, but this video borders on being an infomercial, particularly when compared to the 1997 Rasputin episode. All the same, it's entertaining and fairly informative.
Review and discussion questions: (1) When and where was Rasputin born? (2) Why do many consider Rasputin to have been both a sinner and a saint? (3) Describe the events that shaped Russia in 1905. (4) How did Rasputin make himself indispensable to the Romanov family? (5) Why did many people come to believe that Tsarina Alexandra was having an affair with Rasputin? (6) Describe Rasputin's public and private behavior. (7) How did Rasputin die? (8) What ultimately happened to Tsar Nicholas II and the imperial family? (9) How have opinions about the Romanovs changed over the past century? (10) In your opinion, how does Rasputin stack up against other villains in world history, such as Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler?

Vocabulary terms and names: adviser, Alexei, Alexandra, assassination, charisma, clairvoyance, conspiracy, emperor, empress, Felix Yusupov, gossip, Grigori Rasputin, guru, healer, hemophilia, hypnotize, imperial family, Khlysts, monk, mystical, Neva River, Nicholas II, nobility, Orthodox Church, peasant, Rasputin file, Romanov dynasty, rumors, Russia, Russian Revolution, second sight, sects, seduce, Siberia, society, spirituality, St. Petersburg, Trans-Siberian Railway, treatment, World War I
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"History's Mysteries: The True Story of Rasputin" DVD/Video Review Publication Date for Citation Purposes: July 8, 2012