Tsar Nicholas (Ian McKellen) struggles to rule Imperial Russia while the Communist movement gathers strength. His son Alexei suffers from haemophilia, and the court doctors can do nothing to prevent his bleeding. Monk Rasputin (Alan Rickman) arrives, claiming to have been touched by God, and manages to heal Alexei. He is welcomed at the court, but his lecherous ways make him many enemies. A great drinker and seducer, Rasputin seems impervious to assassination attempts, but his own end will pre-empt the fall of the Russian nobility.