The True Story of King’s Man | What is reality and fiction in the movie Kingsman

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Previously, the Kingsman franchise had never been too preoccupied with the real story – with the first two films telling modern-day stories about an all-fictional spy agency.

And while the previous new film The King’s Man is about the origins of that same fictional agency, it also contains several nods to real events, set against the backdrop of WWI.

Only, it is not quite the First World War as we know it. Yes, there are growing tensions in Europe, and yes, we are watching Archduke Franz Ferdinand gunned down on the streets in Sarajevo – but beyond the basic details, the film forges a lot of its own alternate history.

In Vaughn’s version of the war, a mysterious organization of criminals led by a bitter Scottish nationalist is largely responsible for the conflict, manipulating the situation in Europe to start the war and make it last as long as possible – with their ultimate goal. to bring about the destruction of England.

One of the criminal’s right-hand men in this endeavor is the famous Russian monk Rasputin, and while this version of the character is aptly exaggerated, star Rhys Ifans told RadioTimes.com his portrayal was at least in part based on the historical record.

“Most of what we know about Rasputin anyway is arguably fictional,” he said. “He already stays in our culture as a kind of anti-superhero, so he lends itself wonderfully to a vehicle like the Kingsman franchise storyline.

“And he also has such a specific look that is instantly recognizable – even if you don’t know anything about Rasputin in general, this kind of figure is instantly recognizable.

“And then it was about learning who he was or what we know about him,” he added. “We know he was mysterious, he was very powerful, he was physically very strong, he had no table manner, he was very difficult to kill and he was a healer – undoubtedly a very successful one. There are a lot of assumptions around Rasputin himself, so it’s a bit on a plate in terms of what you have to play with as an actor.

He continued, “The film gives us more information about Rasputin than we realize, and what we might assume to be fictional is not actually.

“The two examples from the top of my head: in the assassination of Rasputin there is were actual members of the British Secret Service involved in the planning and execution of the assassination. Besides, Rasputin had bad table manners and ate like a pig. But where we separate is that he was clearly not a champion Cossack kung fu dancer. But again, who knows?

A star who plays not one, not two, but Three The historical characters in the film are Tom Hollander who plays the triple roles of King George V of England, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. In the first act, the film gives us a brief history lesson on the relationship between the three monarchs, who were all first cousins, and although much of what happens afterwards is fictionalized, l The background itself is based on facts.

“There is a book called The Three Emperors by Miranda Carter, which has been very, very useful throughout the period,” Hollander says when asked about the characters’ true stories.

“I had also played George V once before, so I had done a fair bit of research on him,” he added. “But when you play a historical figure in someone else’s version of a bit of history, they’ve made a lot of decisions about the presentation of that character.

“Sometimes when you’re researching you come across details that don’t match the version of the character you’re being asked to play – and you have to focus your work on the script for that version of that character to work. But Miranda Carter’s book helped me, it just sparked my imagination to find out what real people looked like.

There are also other historical figures who appear in the film. For example, Charles Dance plays Herbert Kitchener, who was Secretary of State for War at the start of World War I, and whose death aboard HMS Hampshire is recreated here, albeit in a heavily fictionalized way. (It is perhaps worth noting that although he is portrayed in the film as a purely heroic figure, it masks the fact that in real life Kitchener was also responsible for the expansion of concentration camps and scorched earth policy during the British Boer War campaign.)

Meanwhile, other characters from the film based on real characters include Erik Jan Hanussen (Daniel Bruhl), Prince Felix Yusupov (Aaron Vodovoz), Alfred DuPont (Todd Boyce), Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (Branka Katic), Mata Hari (Valerie Pachner) and Gavrilo Princip (Joël Basman).

The long and the short, then, is that if the central storyline and key characters played by Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickenson, Gemma Arterton, Djimon Hounsou and Matthew Goode are entirely fictional, there is at least a grain of history. true in the movie – although it bears little resemblance to what was actually going on behind the scenes.

The King’s Man is now available in UK cinemas. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV guide or visit our Movie hub for all the latest news and features.

This year’s Radio Times Christmas double issue is now on sale, featuring two weeks of TV, film and radio shows, reviews, reports and star interviews.

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