Caesar → Czar → Kaiser
October 7, 2010 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Czar Nicholas II was an early and ardent fan of film, and commanded that some of the significant events of his life be captured on celluloid: including his coronation in 1896 (the first film of a state occasion anywhere, nicely narrated and expanded upon at the HowStuffWorks video site), and the retreat with his family in 1917 (a repost from the excellent but difficult to navigate WPA Film Library). More (still, color) film from Czarist Russia previously on Metafilter.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (10 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Keen stuff, good find! Here's a direct link to the YT clip of the 1917 film, without being embedded in another site.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2010

This is really cool, thanks! It's interesting to see the lack of direction and cinematography in the coronation video, neat to see how much the medium has grown.
posted by nomadicink at 1:04 PM on October 7, 2010

Hey I thought that looked familiar. In Chris Marker's The Last Bolshevik there's a scene from this (or another very early Tsarist film) in which one of the aristocrats can be seen gesturing at someone in the crowd. Further examination reveals he's yelling at a man in the crowd for not taking his hat off in the presence of royalty, "rule, exploit, kill now and then, but never humiliate."
posted by geoff. at 1:34 PM on October 7, 2010

Really nice. My family, for a reason I can still not understand, is totally into Czar Nicholas. My father made us read Nicholas and Alexandra when we were teenagers. And they regularly pop up in conversation.

I remember being out Christmas shopping one year with my father, and we stopped to have dinner in a Chinese restaurant. At one point in the conversation he began to rant, loudly, about Nicholas losing Russia because "he just thought he could sit on a horse in all his regalia and that would be enough!" Not really a cool thing for a kid out with dad, since peopel began to stare, and I was mortified. But a pretty fun memory.
posted by chocolatetiara at 1:52 PM on October 7, 2010

I love early film footage. Thanks for posting these. The costumes in the coronation film were particularly interesting.

Also, I watched the coronation footage (which is silent) with an Inception soundtrack mashup playing, so it was completely surreal.
posted by immlass at 2:19 PM on October 7, 2010

Why is early film footage always sped up like that? Is is an effect of the technology used at the time?
posted by Golfhaus at 3:06 PM on October 7, 2010

It was probably shot at a rate of (or hand cranked to an approximation of) 16 frames per second, or so. Modern cinema standard is 24 frames per second, so old stuff played at modern speeds can get a little tweaky. Then there's the conversions to 25 or 30fps for European or US/Japan TV...
posted by jtron at 3:15 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Amazing to realize that that coronation video was shot while Queen Victoria still had almost 5 years left to live.

The How Stuff Works video notes that the Khodynka Tragedy (in which 1300 people were trampled to death in a mass panic) happened during the coronation festivities, the first of many tragedies and nightmares to stalk the czar's reign.
posted by blucevalo at 9:39 PM on October 7, 2010

Wasn't he the only crowned head ever to appear in the buff on film, photo, or video?

I remember seeing the Czar on vacation, swimming, within clothes.
posted by ijsbrand at 11:46 AM on October 8, 2010

without clothes. Stop the clock.
posted by ijsbrand at 11:47 AM on October 8, 2010

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