UNCOVERING TSARIST MYSTERY
By Barbara Shulgasser (EXAMINER MOVIE
Francisco Examiner, April 4, 1997
Mystery of the Last Tsar” about Tsar
1918, Bolsheviks walked Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra,
daughters, son, maid and doctor into a small basement room of
a building in a remote Siberian town and opened fire. We know
this now, but for years the rumors that the Romanovs were massacred
remained unconfirmed, as no bodies were found.
“The Mystery of the Last Tsar” is a thorough documentary
piecing together the imperial family’s demise through the
examination of rumors, legends, newly opened Soviet archives and
scientific research. Lured by claims that a curious ex-KGB agent
had discovered the mass grave of the Romanovs in 1979 and had
been silenced until the collapse of the Soviet regime, Victoria
Lewis went to Ekaterinburg in 1991 to begin her work.
The film is full of archival footage of Nicholas and his family
enjoying their privileges. It also covers the uprising of the
masses against 300 years of repressive imperial rule in 1917.
There are interesting side trips, including a segment on Gregory
Rasputin and his eerie hold on the Tsarina Alexandra and her hemophiliac
son, Alexei, as well as the story of Anna Anderson, a woman who
claimed she was Anastasia, the imperial daughter whose body was
supposedly never accounted for.
Most fascinating are the speculations of forensic and DNA experts, the
latter having concluded that the battered skeletons found in the shallow
grave were indeed the tsar and his family. For comparison, they used
donated DNA from Prince Phillip, who was related to the Russian royal
family on his mother’s side.
Excerpts from the dairies of Yakov Yurovsky, the head of the execution
squad, make events of 80 years ago seem frighteningly contemporary.
In retrospect, the whole affair is politics as usual.