Based on the true story of Gregory Rasputin, a Russian peasant who rose from obscurity to become the controversial favourite of the Royal Family. Rasputin (Alan Rickman) makes his way to St. Petersburg after claiming to have seen several miraculous visions of the Virgin Mary. Once there, his curious magnetism and reputation for curing people earns him an invitation to the palace, where the Heir to the Throne has been stricken with apparently incurable haemophilia. Rasputin manages to soothe the boy and stop his bleeding attacks, several of which are almost fatal. Having witnessed these apparent miracle cures, Empress Alexandra (Greta Scacchi) is convinced that Rasputin is a messenger from God and she refuses to believe reports of his constant womanising and alcoholism. However, with the outbreak of war, Alexandra's friendship with Rasputin earns her hundreds of enemies who believe he is damaging the monarchy in a time of crisis - including Alexandra's husband, Tsar Nicholas (Sir Ian McKellen), who tries to banish Rasputin from the city. Faced with the empress's refusal to believe that Rasputin is anything other than a living saint, a group of ultra-monarchists (headed by James Frain) decide to take drastic measures to save the Throne.