Does The King's Man Trailer Hint at an Old Rasputin Conspiracy Theory?

The King’s Man trailer, a prequel to 2014's Kingsman: The Secret Service set during World War I, hints the movie might draw from a conspiracy theory regarding the British Secret Service's involvement in the assassination of famous Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin.

The first trailer shows at least two separate characters fighting with Rasputin, interspersed with short flashes referencing the sheer scale of WWI.  During the war, Britain and its allies fought Germany on the Western Front, while Russia kept the Central Powers busy on the Eastern Front. The conspiracy theory in question contends Rasputin was assassinated because he was using his influence to push the Tsar to sign a peace treaty with Germany. The logic behind this treaty was to preserve Russia’s autocratic regime by avoiding the expense and loss of Russian lives of carrying out the war with Germany, but its success would have forced Britain to face the full force of the German's in the West.

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Within Russia, Rasputin's plans were opposed by most of the aristocracy and the military elites, who were instead wanted their country to win territorial advantages by allying with Britain and France against Germany. Rasputin’s enemies also stoked rumors of supposed sorcery, cult-like rituals and sexual debauchery with his female acolytes, which further damaged his reputation and multiplied the antipathy against him and his seemingly nefarious policies.

Although there'd previously been an attempt on his life, Rasputin was killed in December 1916 by Felix Yusupov, the Tsar’s nephew-in-law, and Vladimir Purishkevich, a member of the Duma, a Russian political assembly. According to Yusupov’s testimony, first they tried to poison Rasputin’s teacakes and wine with cyanide, but he just kept enjoying himself for hours when he should have died within minutes. Alleging that this scared them even more, Yusupov and Purishkevich shot Rasputin once in the heart and once in the stomach. Still having not died, Rasputin was then tied up, rolled in a blanket and thrown into the river.

Rasputin was found frozen and dead, but there was a third bullet hole found in his forehead, with forensics indicating he'd been shot point-blank with a revolver, a weapon that neither Yusupov nor Purishkevich possessed. The theory, quite well explained in this BBC2 documentary, states that the revolver belonged to Oswald Rayner, a British MI6 agent based in Moscow. He'd met Felix Yusupov when they were students at Oxford, and helped Yusupov craft his narration of the failed poisoning, and who even confessed to his cousin Rose that he had been present at Rasputin’s assassination.

To this day, the MI6 denies having any knowledge of Rayner’s involvement in this plot, although journalist Michael Smith wrote that Mansfield Cumming, then head of the British Intelligence Bureau (and also Ian Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond’s “M”) had deployed three operatives to Russia to assist in Rasputin’s demise.

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The King’s Man trailer actually shows one character firing a revolver: Polly (Gemma Arterton). Whether she'll be the one to pull the trigger on Rasputin remains to be seen, but there's a good indication the fledgeling intelligence agency played some role in the death of the Russian mystic and the theory of a third gunman from Britain. The actual movie could, of course, approach Rasputin in a variety of different ways, but there's definitely evidence to suggest theories of a British spy organization's involvement in his death could work their way into the film. Theorists just had which organization wrong.

The King's Man stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, with Djimon Hounsou and Charles Dance. The film is slated to be released in February 2020.

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