Netflix has attempted to explain one of the most important events in Russian history, with a combination of historic facts and storytelling combined. Westerners such as myself, have found it enjoyable, while the word on the street in Russia, is that it is basically laughable. Even so, the six part mini-series on Netflix brings together just enough drama and suspense, to make us want to listen to the historical narratives that are spread throughout the series. You will see actors playing their roles, actual footage from the early twentieth century, and commentaries from historians, who explain what is going on. With these three factors combined, you will be entertained enough to learn something about The Last Czars of Russia.
The first episode opens up with the tutor (Oliver Dimsdale) of the Romanov children investigating a claim that a young woman is making in Berlin, that she is the youngest daughter of Nicholas Romanov II. From here, we see a flashback to 1894 when Nicholas’s father died and he becomes the Czar of Russia. After these scenes, the modern day historians pop in to give commentary added with actual historical footage. This is the format we see throughout the rest of the series. In case you do not understand what is going on, the historians are here to explain!
The Last Czars tells the story of the reign and fall of the last Romanov Czar, Nicholas II, and his family. We watch how Nicholas (Robert Jack), and his wife, Alexandra of Hesse (Susanna Herbert), rule the Russian kingdom at the dawn of the twentieth century. We see their daily struggles while expanding their family with four daughters and one sick son. Added to this, are the conflicts that the famed mystic monk, Rasputin (Ben Cartwright), brings to the Romanov’s when he becomes highly favored by Alexandra. If this isn’t enough, the climax includes a botched war effort, a revolution, and unrepentant murders, of even children.
Even though, the writers made some minor errors with this production (ask a Russian friend), I found it enjoyable to watch. The director did not have to include the abundance of nudity and sexual situations in the series to tell the story of the Romanovs. There is also some vulgarity that I read Russians did not use 100 years ago. Yet, with this being said, I would still recommend The Last Czars as a “docuseries” one can watch, and actual learn something about history, while at the same time, being entertained.