Scattered stuff from a native New Yorker, disorganized former English Major, film buff, haiku enthusiast, semi-professional photographer and totally amateur fencer.

• Text Post

Russla’s Lost Princesses Part 2 (on the BBC) - Quick Review

The BBC 2-part documentary has become somewhat of a cause célèbre on Tumblr with everyone knowing about it now but I thought I should do a follow-up on Part 2.

More here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fljy7

PROS: 

Again - Some nice (and CLEAR) footage and photos. Yeah, this time that really is it. Although one nursing photo that was supposed to be Olga was clearly Tatiana and some seconds of footage of “Nicholas II” smoking was clearly not NII but seemingly from a silent Bolshevik propaganda film.

CONS:

Well, it’s pretty much what I thought. Let’s not call this “Russia’s Lost Princesses”, let’s just call it yet another Nicholas and Alexandra documentary (and when it comes to those I’ve seen better on National Geographic or the History Channel). They had two hours and unless you knew who OTMA were coming in I bet you couldn’t tell ANYTHING specific about Maria, Anastasia or Tatiana based on this documentary.

Olga does get a little more mention thanks to her non-engagement to Carol of Romania, her “romance” with Dmitri Shakh-Bagov and her feelings of melancholy about their upcoming doom.

Oh and there Maria and the cake thing. Which apparently was important enough to mention although this was pretty much the first mention of Maria - a girl who, despite already coming down with measles, walked with her mother to every soldier who guarded the Alexander Palace and asked them for their loyalty - in the cold, at night, literally at the risk of her own life (since she almost died). This incident is told in every book about N&A, but was not important enough as a example of Maria’s character to talk about here. The cake thing, yeah….

Tatiana also had “romances” with soldiers as a nurse, particularly of course Dmitri Malama - a man who gave her Ortino (who died with her in Ekaterinburg), who Alix said would have made a great “son in-law” had he been a prince and who died fighting for the White Army in 1919. But then he doesn’t fit the “swarthy, mustachioed” type that the girls were supposedly into so he’s never mentioned.

Nor is Tatiana’s refugee committee which she oversaw personally and was so successful that the Provisional Govt. continued it post-abdication. Maria and Anastasia’s hospital visits (and the fact they had their own hospital they sponsored) also never mentioned. 

Instead its more of a pile-on for Nicky and Alix, with Nicholas perceived as weak who followed whatever Alix (and Rasputin said). Several historians in recent times have disputed this idea and pointed out how often Nicholas IGNORED Alix’s political advice. But that doesn’t fit the template they wanted to tell so - no go.

It was pretty clear that most of the commentators, outside of Prince Michael of Kent, pretty much loathed Nicholas and Alexandra and just let loose (in a doc that was SUPPOSED to be about the daughters). The whole idea that Alix and O&T’s nursing was a “bad” PR move and taking pictures of themselves in nursing uniforms backfired because prostitutes had gotten hold of a shipment of nursing uniforms. WTF! Seriously. WTF! There’s a thread on the Alexander Palace Forum right now about how prior to abdication, Alix was universally praised and held in high regard not just by the Allies in the war but by the other side for her nursing and wartime relief efforts. And O&T are front and center in postcards from the era out to kazoo and in newspapers reports of the time - ALL IN THEIR NURSING OUTFITS. 

Also the whole thing with the “rumors” about Alix and Rasputin and the girls and Rasputin and how “everybody” believed them including foreign dignitaries. Which, excuse me, is crap. Any foreign ambassador or European world leader (many of whom were related to Alix) knew of her personal near-Puritan character. No they didn’t BELIEVE. The British certainly didn’t. Nor did the Austrians or Germans. The Spanish Govt. and the Vatican (both of which offered the IF asylum but too late) obviously didn’t. Just like in Ep. 1 they talk about the “gossip” of the time concerning Rasputin as if it were fact. In the first episode they said there was “no evidence” concerning Rasputin with O&T but here with Alix we didn’t even get that disclaimer.

The true point of the documentary was shown in the final moments. Showing that iconic 1904 photo of OTMA, reeling off the ages of the girls at their deaths and then saying that ones who were responsible for their death was NOT Yakov Yurovsky (the mastermind of the execution does not even get NAME CHECKED once!) but the girl’s own parents! Nicholas and Alexandra were responsible for the horrible gruesome terrifying manner in which these girls died -which they never go into detail about beyond shooting and bayoneting, nothing about the diamonds or how the girls (at least Maria, Tatiana and Anastasia) survived the first volleys of gunfire and saw their parents murdered. Yes, N&A totally should have predicted that the Revolutionaries would have killed their children along with them. I mean didn’t the English kill Charles I’s kids? Wait, no they didn’t. How about the French Revolutionaries? Surely the Jacobins killed Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s kids….oh, wait, they DIDN’T either (though the Dauphin died from mistreatment). 

It just saddens me that they had two hours to give time to the distinct personalities of each of these supposed “Lost Princesses” and spend most of the time talking about their parents. Has anyone who has ever read anything (even if its just Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra) about the family knows the girls were individuals in their own right. As letters and photos and diaries are becoming more and more accessible from GARF and other sources we actually have more information on how true that was. But from this documentary you would never know it.

• Photoset Post

fairestcharming:

Lit Meme → [8/10] Books: The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

A flurry of panic erupts around me, but nothing penetrates. Only a haze of sounds brushes against me. Yelps from Mama, my sisters. Papa turning back to Yurovsky, his mouth moving. What? I can’t understand you. Read it again please. Yurovsky’s voice once more, like a needle on a gramophone. Papa, still asking, What? What? 
Another flash - Yurovsky and his squad answering with open fire. 
I cross myself and close my eyes. 
Where we go next, we go together.

• Photo Post

tiny-librarian:

As things actually stood in 1917-1918, Grand Duchess Olga was relatively irrelevant in political terms. She was murdered along with her parents and siblings not because of what she did of could have done, but because of who she was.
The Diary of Olga Romanov - Helen Azar

tiny-librarian:

As things actually stood in 1917-1918, Grand Duchess Olga was relatively irrelevant in political terms. She was murdered along with her parents and siblings not because of what she did of could have done, but because of who she was.

The Diary of Olga Romanov - Helen Azar

• Text Post

Russla’s Lost Princesses Part 1 (on the BBC) - Quick Review

For those who don’t know this is a 2-part documentary on OTMA, mostly it seems from material from Helen Rappaport’s “Four Sisters” book.

More here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fljy7

PROS: 

Some nice (and CLEAR) footage and photos.

Nice views of the present day Alexander Palace and interiors.

Kudos to BBC for actually doing a doc on the Grand Duchesses.

That’s it.

CONS:

Alexandra is blamed for everything - including at one point as being the main force behind the death of the family (and here I thought that was Yurovsky and Lenin). For the commentators, either she’s too much of a (smothering) mother or not enough of one.

Nicholas, like him or hate or anywhere in between, was a very hard working man. He DID believe in the autocracy (a negative) to the point where he personally looked at every single law/letter to the Tsar/petition that was put on his desk. He worked HOURS. This has been known for decades going back to Massie’s “Nicholas and Alexandra”. Yet the documentary would have us believe he (a man who spoke half a dozen languages fluently and was frequently his father’s ambassor/envoy to different parts of the world) spent all his time as Tsarevich goofing around and then spent all his time as Tsar holed up in Tsarskoe Selo.

Hated, HATED the insinuations about Olga and Tatiana and Rasputin. The show says “there is no evidence” anything untoward takes place AFTER they discuss the rumors. Pure gossip mongering just like the the gossips in N&A’s time.

The voice-overs for the Imperial Family! WTF! After telling us right in the documentary that Alix was more English than German and was practically raised by Queen Victoria, they have an actress reading her letters in a vague German accent (not as bad as how she was treated in “The Lost Prince” also by the BBC but close…) Nicholas II, a man well-known in his time, for having an English accent so perfect that even Englishmen couldn’t tell where he was from is given a very bad Russian accent. OTMA (well Olga, Tatiana and Maria) are given cutesy Russian little girl accents. Remember these are the same girls that Edward VII complained about (in the English visit mentioned in the documentary) for speaking English with an IRISH accent (a hold over from their Irish nanny Eager) to the point that Alix had to employ Sidney Gibbes to correct them and who spoke English with their mother (and members of their extended royal family since it was the one language they had in common) and who grew up with it as their second language and were STILL using it in exile when there were no English people around and in letters. Gleb Botkin actually said OTMA’s accent was neither entirely Russian nor English but a strange combination of the two that he had never heard before or since. One would think BBC would love an excuse to actually play up the English-part of the girls given its an English language documentary (and British broadcaster) but no….

Overall verdict:

I think maybe 1/5 of the show was about the girls. It was mostly about Nicholas, Alexei’s illness and especially Alexandra. So to that extent its basically another rehash of the girls being in the shadow of their parents and brother’s story. Sad.

Part 2 is about “romance” during the war years (and the hard-to-overlook mass murder at the end). Oy vey.

I’ll probably still watch it though. Just to see if there’s any new footage,

Stuff I Like