Nicholas and Alexandra

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Nicholas and Alexandra is a 1971 drama, directed by Franklin Schaffner, about the rule and family life of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Imperial Russia, and the eventual rise of the Soviet Union.

The man who lost an empire because he could not say no to his wife

Tsar Nicholas II[edit]

  • [On his newborn son] The boy will bring us luck. We will smash the Japanese and kick them out of Korea, and I do not care the cost! I have a son to fight for now.
  • No fact begins with if.
  • The Windsors have a parliament. Our British cousins gave their rights away; so did the Hapsburgs, and the Hohenzollerns, too. The Romanovs will not. What I was given, I will give my son.
  • [Touring Russia by railroad in honor of the Tricentennial of the House of Romanov] I did not want to do this tour. But God, I so love it when they stand and wave!
  • Stolypin is a good man. They always kill the good ones... I cannot find a match. Does anyone have a match?... It happened with my grandfather, too. He helped the serfs; he freed them. So how did the peasants express their gratitude? They threw a bomb at him. Damn those revolutionaries. You try to help them by giving them what they want, and what do you get for it? Bombs, gunshots, assassinations! I want them rooted out. I want something done, do you understand me? I want them paid in kind!
  • [Explaining the events of 1914 to his son Alexei] You see, sometimes governments do things their people do not like. So the people react in different ways. The British vote. The Americans frequently remind their leaders of the U.S. Constitution. And the Serbs throw bombs. You see, Serbia wants its independence. But Austria will not grant it to them. So the Serbs resort to violence. It has happened in this country too sometimes. Your great-grandfather was killed by a bomb; so was Uncle Sergei. But Serbia is a long way away. Our foreign ministry will write some angry letters to the Serbian leaders, our generals will go on exercise, and everything will be right again. And we do not need have bad dreams about archdukes. All over Europe, kings and queens are sleeping safely in their beds, and that is what we are going to do, too.
  • [Signing his abdication papers] March 15th, 1917. The Ides of March.
  • [Angrily, to Alexandra] All my life... my whole life, I've done what you want. I gave Mother up. You hated her, so we don't see her anymore. I gave my friends up. Do you know I haven't a single friend? I've got my family. Four girls, one sick boy... and you. I ask myself, before I eat, sleep, or change my clothes, "Is this what Sunny wants?" And it never is. There's always more! Sweet Jesus, how much do you want of me?!

Prime Minister Witte[edit]

  • The people want more schools and health clinics, laws to protect the workers and the right to vote for an elected Duma. They are angry, sir, and they are serious. Imagine, sire, imagine if you would, that you are a factory worker living in Vladivostok or Saint Petersburg. You are really poor. Meals almost never fill your belly. You freeze eight months out of the year. Your children have no school, no doctors. Your country taxes you and sends the men a continent away to die for a piece of land on the Pacific Ocean. Imagine all that you have to deal with. You must give your people a little of what they want. Not everything mind you; just a taste.
  • [Begging the Tsar to stay out of World War One] Don't any of you understand? We are not fighting Napoleon this time! Germany has ten miles of railroad for every one mile of ours and has one hundred factories for every one we have. That gives the Germans a supreme advantage. All Russia has is men, and they will be slaughtered like flies! You could so easily keep Russia out of this war. The only thing you have to do is to walk out the door. Just get up and go home to your wife and children. You would be remembered as the greatest of all the Tsars.
  • None if you will be here when this war ends. Everything we worked to build will be destroyed. There is no question another great war will come. The societies and kingdoms of Europe we knew will crumble, and out of the wreckage madmen and lunatics will come to power. And the world will grow old.

Grigori Rasputin[edit]

  • I studied late to be a starets. I was twenty when this vision came. We peasants get them all the time. The Virgin Mary appears to us. She tells us when to sell our sheep when we want to make a profit. She told me to start walking; so I did. I kept walking throughout Europe and I waited for Her to tell me when to stop walking, but she did not. When I got to Greece, I could walk no more: so I resided in a monastery for two years and then proceeded to walk back to Russia again. Sometimes people ask me "What do I need to become a starets?" and I respond "Good feet."
  • [Admiring a big-busted woman] So, you would like to be an opera singer? Yes, you have the chest for it.

Vladimir Lenin[edit]

  • You must understand that you are free to say whatever you like. You must also understand that I am free to shoot you for saying it.
  • I speak, nobody pays attention. I write, nobody reads it. I am out of style, nobody is wearing me this season. I mean, three hundred years of Romanovs. What is not to say there will not be 300 more?

Father Gapon[edit]

  • The Tsar is here in Saint Petersburg to bless the troops. He is staying at the Winter Palace. This Sunday, hundreds of us will walk to the palace in a peaceful parade. I will meet him on the balcony and read this: "Your Majesty, we, the working men and women of Saint Petersburg, come to you seeking justice and protection. Only you can hear our grievances. If you do not help us, we will stay here and die, right in this very courtyard."
  • ["Bloody Sunday" massacre has just occured. A disshelved Father Gapon has been knocked over and is returning to his senses] He never came. He never came. Nicholas, the murderer, the bloody, bloody murderer!

Grand Duke Nicholas[edit]

  • [Explaining the logistics of the Russo-Japanese War] Well Nicky, let me put it this way. Presents a bullet This is a bullet, munitioned in Saint Petersburg. I send it off to war. How does it get there? On a single spur of railroad track four thousand miles long. And in the middle, no track at all. God help us, it sends three days packed on sleds. This works the same way for every pair of boots, first aid kit, or pound of tea we send. Get out now, Nicky. While there is time.
  • [Speaking to the Tsar about the First World War] I could have won this war if I only had to confront one enemy in front of me, the Germans. But I had two enemies behind my back, your wife and her monk! You know, Rasputin actually wrote to me asking if he could come to the front lines to bless the troops. I replied that if he ever showed his face we would hang him on sight! I was an idiot to say that; should have let him come, we would have hung the bastard once he got here!

Colonel Volkov[edit]

  • They will not last a week. We will bury that little pansy of a Kaiser and be home in time for Christmas!

Prince Yusupov[edit]

  • You ministers never cease to amaze me. You think you are in control, but you are going to be swept away just like us princes. I am throwing a little soiree on Thursday, why not come? I cannot stop the revolution, but until it comes, let us have some fun. Even if it only for a few more days.

Dialogue[edit]

Rasputin: Batushka Tsar.
[Rasputin bows to the Tsar, who nods his head in return]
Rasputin: Matushka, why are you afraid?
Tsaritsa Alexandra: Why am I what?!
Rasputin: I think you are frightened. Strangers frighten you. There was a case back in Pokrovskoe. That is my home; it is a little village in Siberia. There was a woman who was so frightened of strangers that she bought herself a pinewood box and lived in it. One day her husband buried the box with her in it. "Ivan, don't!", she cried. Her husband responded "I only want to make you happy". She said "I know, I know. But Heaven is full of strangers. Let me out!"

[Textile factory. Petya, a peasant man, leads Father Gapon down the steps]
Petya: This way, Father, please hurry!
Sonya: It is too late, Petya. She is dead.
[Petya looks in sorrow to see his mother has expired while Father Gapon gives his now-deceased mother Extreme Unction]
Petya: My mother spent her whole life here. She was born in this factory, grew up here, took her classes here, played here, got married here. I was born, Father died, I got married here and had children. And now it is all over for her. The other people here just keep on working. Well, I cannot blame them. They have to work to feed their families. [pauses momentarily] Father, I have a confession to make. I want to kill somebody. The other factory workers come visit me some time. They tell me we ought to make bombs, blow things up. Well, I want to fight back for once!
Father Gapon: The only thing violence produces is more violence. They will beat you and throw you in jail. There is a better way. We will go to see the Tsar with our grievances.
Sonya: You know the saying, Father: God is too high and the Tsar is too far away.

[The "Bloody Sunday" massacre has just occurred.]
Tsar Nicholas II: How many dead?
Prime Minister Witte: Sir, we are still counting; but it is estimated to be in the hundreds.
Tsar Nicholas II: Who gave the order to fire upon them?
Prime Minister Witte: Your Majesty, nobody ordered it.
Tsar Nicholas II: You run this government. Somebody had to have ordered something!
Prime Minister Witte: Would you have gone out to meet them?
Tsar Nicholas II: Of course not.
Prime Minister Witte: Would you have given them a Duma? Allowed them to have elections? Had schools and hospitals built for them?
Tsar Nicholas II: How could I?
Prime Minister Witte: Then why bother to inform you about this? You would not have done anything!

Tsar Nicholas II: What you have done for the Empire in the years since Witte retired has been nothing short of a miracle.
Prime Minister Stolypin: I am not the one holding Russia together, you are! Here are the plans for the Tricentennial Tour across all of Russia. The tour is going to be long and taxing, but it is important that the people see that the dynasty is permanent and strong.
Tsar Nicholas II: Anything else?
Prime Minister Stolypin: I have these as well. Stolypin produces a dossier Police reports about Grigori Efifvomitch Rasputin. Drunk half the time. Carousing with women all throughout Saint Petersburg. Whores, officer's wives, you name it. I was also shown these.
Stolypin shows Tsar anti-monarchy cartoons. One depicts a topless Tsaritsa and another shows the Tsar and Tsaritsa sitting in Rasputin's lap
Tsar Nicholas II: Damn it, what is wrong with the Ohkrana? Can't 10,000 secret agents find a printing press?
Tsar crumples up cartoons and throws them into the Black Sea
Prime Minister Stolypin: It is a network. The agents cannot find them all. You need to send Rasputin back to Pokrovskoe, or at least somewhere away from Petersburg. They are talking about it in the Duma.
Tsar Nicholas II: Damn that Witte! He made me give a parliament to the people.
Prime Minister Stolypin: I do not like the Duma any more than you do but it is better for the commoners to feel they have a voice in government instead of being wooed by the rebels. Still, people are wondering why you invite Rasputin to be around your family.
Tsar Nicholas II: You know why.
Prime Minister Stolypin: I do, but the people do not!

Tsar Nicholas II: So the concern is they don't understand Rasputin. You say I should do something to clear the air, sure. How about this for the announcement: "Citizens, your Tsarevitch could have a nosebleed and die from it!"
Prime Minister Stolypin: You have got to banish Rasputin, I cannot control the situation if you do not! People think he goes to bed with your wife and daughters, of all nasty rumors!
Tsar Nicholas II: The problem is if I kick out Rasputin what will happen for...
Tsaritsa Alexandra{screaming}: ALEXEI!
Tsar's family and Prime Minister Stolypin watch in horror as Alexei decides to climb a sea mount. Nagorny, a sailor in the Russian Navy has been assigned as Alexei's bodyguard, climbs sea mount after him. Alexei slips and falls but is grabbed by Nagorny in a bear hug
Nagorny: Your Majesty, are you all right?
Tsarevitch Alexei: I am all right Nagorny, you caught me. You will always be there for me.

[Following the assassination of Prime Minister Stolypin, a wave of police brutality occurs. Petya the factory worker is chased away after it is shown he has anti-monarchist cartoons under his bed. Scene changes to the Duma, where policemen are standing by to usher out the Duma members as the Tsar has ordered it dissolved]
Alexander Kerensky: Tell the Tsar that he can close this building, but he cannot silence the voice of the Russian commoners!
Members of the Duma [in unison]: Hear, hear!
Duma President: Mr. Kerensky, I have the floor. You are not to speak out of turn!
Alexander Kerensky: The Duma is not a street corner. We are not rebels and bombmakers. Most of us want a system similar to the English way. Let there be a Tsar. But let there also be the rule of law and reprenstative government as well. Bring the Tsar to us and let him be told that.
Members of the Duma [in unison]: Hear, hear!
Duma President: The Tsar is not here right now. He is at his hunting lodge in Poland.
Alexander Kerensky: I do not care if he is in Scotland shooting wild grouse! If he is not here, then go to the Tsar and tell him that by dissolving the Duma, he is bringing ruin on his head and emboldening the rebels. Tell him now! Tell him, while there is a Tsar still left to tell!

[Siberia. Rasputin is in his native village of Pokrovskoe. He is riding on a horse guzzling liquor straight from the bottle when he approaches three attractive peasant girls shoveling hay. A wagon full of hay bales lumbers down the road near a walking nun]
Nun: Good day, and may the Lord be with you.
[Rasputin emerges nude from the hay bales, still chugging his bottle of booze but now accompanied by the three peasant girls who are now topless]
Rasputin: And the Lord be with you! [laughs]
[The nun frantically crosses herself at seeing such a vulgar sight]

[1914. Tsar is sending and receiving telegrams to Kaiser Wilhelm II]
Military aide: Your Majesty, a telegram from the Kaiser. He offers his help in the Serbian mess.
Tsar Nicholas II: You see, I knew I could count on Willy!
Prime Minister Witte: With all due respect to your cousin, sire, the Kaiser is a deceitful megalomaniac. If he is offering to help us out, then we really need to start praying.

[War plans have been made and flag officers are cracking open champagne and partying, supremely confident in their short victory over the Central Powers]
Colonel Volkov: This one cannot get to the colors fast enough!
[Partying is momentarily halted when the Tsar enters room. The flag officers stand at attention]
Grand Duke Nicholas: Your Majesty, may I present the head of the Foreign Ministry, Minister Sazarov.
Minister Sazarov: Gentlemen, at ten past seven, Germany declared war on Russia.
Tsar Nicholas II: May God save Russia!
Flag officers [in unison]: God save the Tsar!

[First World War. Colonel Volkov is reviewing the Imperial Army, which has in its ranks every man it can acquire, from teenage boys barely finishing adolesence to white-bearded old men. Colonel Volkov's mood is significantly less cocky from the 1914 party when he believed it would be a short war]
Colonel Volkov: The men have orders to be at the front lines by tonight. Do we have any horses or motor transport?
Russian Major: No, sir. None are available.
Colonel Volkov: Very well, they have to walk.
Russian Major: Right face!
[Russian soldiers turn to their right]
Russian Major: Forward march!
[The Major leads the soldiers in march towards combat zone. Colonel Volkov walks in opposite direction and reclines under a tree. He takes one last look at the sky as he unholsters his pistol, sticks it in his mouth, then squeezes the trigger]

Empress Dowager Marie: I have come to congratulate you, Nicky.
Tsar Nicholas II: What for, Mama?
Empress Dowager Marie: For finding, in all of Russia's countless cretins, idiots and incompetents, the men least qualified to run your government!

Empress Dowager Marie: You have to stop being out here on the front lines and get back to Tsarskoe Selo, where you belong! Rasputin is in Saint Petersburg, running it all into the ground! If you do not act now, we will be ruined and madmen will come!
Tsar Nicholas II: What should I do?
Empress Dowager Marie: Hang him! Send him to the gallows! I do not wish ill on any man, but so many Russians are going to die if you do not!
Tsar Nicholas II: I cannot.
Empress Dowager Marie: Then send him to Siberia! Get back home, send Alexandra to Livadia and take charge of everything!
Tsar Nicholas II: Rasputin lives in Siberia. Besides, what am I to do when my son has a hemophilia attack and Sunny needs Rasputin's help?
Empress Dowager Marie: Do you believe that? Do you honestly and seriously believe that? Millions of Russians are going to starve to death and be murdered, and all because you cannot say no to your wife! In that case I ask you, Nicholas, what can you do?
Tsar Nicholas II: Just what I am doing.
Empress Dowager Marie: I wish your father were still alive. He would know what to do!
Tsar Nicholas II: Don't you dare throw him in my face!
Empress Dowager Marie: Why shouldn't I? He would have burned Vienna down, bombarded the Germans, hung the rebels, shot the strikers, anything to give Russia peace! And he would certainly know what to do about Rasputin! Your father knew how to be a Tsar!

[Members of the Duma are applauding and patting each other on the back to celebrate Rasputin's death]
Duma Member #1: The beast is dead!
Duma Member #2: His killers are heroes!
Duma Member #3: Russia is saved!
[The only members not hooting are Alexander Kerensky and another unnamed member, both of whom roll their eyes and give the impression of "don't party just yet". The ribaldry dies down and the Duma returns to talking shop. Kerensky has the floor]
Alexander Kerensky: One madman has been eliminated and you guys are dancing in the aisles! The German Tsaritsa is still running the country. The Central Powers have been winning victory after victory. The Army is in disarray. One-third of our soldiers go without food, medicine or boots. Entire battalions are defecting! Agricultural production has been sapped and civilians lack meals. The Tsar needs to stop hiding with his troops at the front lines and get back to Saint Petersburg where he belongs. Chaos is coming to Russia, and he needs to be here to deal with it!

General Alexiev: Your Majesty, I have an urgent communique. A riot in Saint Petersburg!
Tsar Nicholas II: Riot? This cannot be, we are at war! This must be some joke!
General Alexiev: No joke, sire. Workers are on strike and people are raiding warehouses. The Army refuses to open fire on them.
Tsar Nicholas II: Telegraph this to the Military Governor. All riots are to be stopped at once. Martial law is to be declared. The Duma is to be dissolved. I return to Saint Petersburg immediately.
General Alexiev: I only hope there is someone in Saint Petersburg to read our orders.

[The Tsar is having coffee with a medical officer; contemplating abdication]
Tsar Nicholas II: Tell me, Dr. Federov, if my son, as the future Tsar, were to stay behind to be educated in Russia while my family traveled abroad, how much longer would he be likely to live?
Doctor Federov: Deprived of your love and care, it is hard to say. There are no real statistics on this. It is a matter of luck and chance, Your Majesty. One could hope he could live a long and normal life, as we do for everyone. However, given my speculation on his medical issues, I would say...twenty would be a good age.

[The tsar is teaching gardening to his children.]
Tsar Nicholas II: In a few months, these will be turnips.
Grand Duchess Anastasia: [giggling] They are carrots.
Tsarevitch Alexei: And when they grow, will we still be around to eat them?

Tsar Nicholas II: All we do is dream of England. We have been very happy there.
Alexander Kerensky: England will not accept you.
Tsar Nicholas II: Won't accept? King George is my cousin!
Alexander Kerensky: He does not seem to want you, either. He has got his own station to worry about.
Tsar Nicholas II: Yes, I must not make trouble for...
Alexander Kerensky: Neither will the French. They are at war to save liberty. You were an autocrat.
Tsar Nicholas II: Damn it! I am a father with a family! Is there not any way? How about Finland? It is only thirty miles away!
Alexander Kerensky: I would never get you out of Saint Petersburg alive. Are you aware that I am all that stands between you and the block? You will be safe under my administration, you have my promise on that. There is blood enough on everybody's hands; I will not have yours on mine. A fine mess Russia in in. Treasury is empty. The Radicals want this, the Socialists want that, the Kadets want the other thing. The Bolsheviks want this, the Mensheviks want that. I could not throw them in jail even if I wanted to! You had power but no laws; I have laws but no power.
Tsar Nicholas II: I wish I could help.
Alexander Kerensky: You had your chances. I sure hope I get mine.

British Ambassador to Russia: Is Russia committed to the war effort?
Alexander Kerensky: Indeed.
French Ambassador to Russia: There is talk about Russians demanding Russia's withdrawal from the war.
Alexander Kerensky: That is the mostly the Bolsheviks. But do not worry about that; the Bolsheviks only have six seats in the Duma, nobody takes them seriously.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia: Washington is prepared to grant a loan of several hundred million rubles to aid your fledling government, but that is contingent upon Russia's military involvement. No war, no loan.
[Kerensky is annoyed by the use of American taxpayers' money to sway Russian opinion]
Alexander Kerensky: You cannot buy Russia! We will fight! But not to get your tax money. We have lost so much already.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia: If I were you, I would put this Lenin quietly in jail.
Alexander Kerensky: I cannot do that just because there has been a bad history in Russia about that sort of thing. It is has been far too easy for the leaders to throw people in jail.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia: I have read his speeches. Surely you have to.
Alexander Kerensky: I cannot throw a man in jail for what he thinks! Of all the people of the world, you Americans should understand that best! It is in your Bill of Rights.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia: Lenin wants to overthrow the government by force. We Americans call that treason.

[Royal family is being prepared for their exile into Siberia]
Grand Duchess Marie: Look! I found Tobolsk on the map!
Count Fredericks: Now remember, girls, you are princesses. You are to carry yourselves as such at all times. If I hear of any misbehavior, I shall be deeply upset.
Grand Duchess Tatiana: Do not worry, Vladimir, we will be good.
[Count Fredericks tries to put on a brave face as he is aware of the possible final fate of the Romanovs. The Tsar's daughters give him a group hug]
Count Fredericks: Help Mama and Papa.
Alexander Kerensky: I have assigned Colonel Koblinsky to watch over you until I can arrange for a way to safely exile you. His orders carry all the weight of mine.
Tsaritsa Alexandra: Nicky, this is horrible! I want my clothes, I want my cosmetics, I want my jewelry!
[The Tsar holds his wife and admonishes her to be strong]
Tsar Nicholas II: Dear, those are only things. Things get broken, they get mislaid, they get dusty. The important fact is we have each other.
Alexander Kerensky: Frau Romanova, you have kept your head. I recommend you show gratitude for that.

[German Embassy to Switzerland. Lenin, who is handcuffed to a chair, is being interrogated by a German consul, who is reading a dossier]
German Consul: Ah, let us see. Name: Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov. Born in Simbirsk in 1870. Attended the University of Kazan but was expelled for participating in anti-monarchist protests. Older brother hanged in 1887 for the attempted assination of the present Tsar's father. Married, no children. Does not smoke, and does not allow his colleagues to smoke either.
[The Consul blows a ring of cigar smoke in Lenin's face]
Lenin: The Tsar should have had your secret police. My party will make a study of your methods.
German Consul: This dossier failed to mention your sense of humor. Let us stop and think of the absurdity of your idea. You want the German government, which is at war with Russia, to smuggle you into your native country which banished you, because you claim you can single-handedly end the war?
Lenin: My government will immediately make peace with Berlin.
German Consul: I never knew you had so much authority.
Lenin: There is power just lying in the streets, up for grabs! Kerensky won't last, he is too busy continuing Russian involvement in the war and the people are desperate for peace! I shall give them peace. With Germany finished with the Eastern Front do you know how many regiments you could transfer to the Western Front?
German Consul: And now you are asking me for classified information. A Marxist wanting to use the Kaiser? Are you aware that Germany has locked up more Bolsheviks than any other country in the world? But then again, war causes strange alliances. Perhaps the Kaiser...could use a Marxist.

Tsarevitch Alexei: Why did you abdicate for me? You never asked!
Tsar Nicholas II: I did not want you to have to pay for my mistakes.
Tsarevitch Alexei: Am I not paying for them now? Are not we all?

[October Revolution. Bolsheviks make plans to capture infrastructure and government buildings. Kerensky and his staff are trapped inside their boardroom]
Alexander Kerensky: They captured the police station? Exactly how powerful are the Bolsheviks?
Government Official: Quite. We made a serious mistake in heeding our allies and continuing the war. The citizenry wanted out of this war. Lenin offered them peace.
Alexander Kerensky: What would it require to smash them?
General Alexiev: One battalion, sir. But I do not know if I have that many soldiers. At least not ones I can trust.
Russian Lieutenant: Look out the window!
[Provisional Government peers out window to a nearby naval base where a cruiser is shining its lights directly on their building]
Russian Lieutenant: The cruiser Aurora. And she has her guns aimed directly at us!
[Duma. It is now entirely full of Bolsheviks and has been renamed the Politburo]
Lenin: The Provisional Government has fallen! We now have power! At long last, we will build our new world order.
[Freeze frame as Lenin's face changes into a bust and the Soviet anthem plays]

[Tobolsk. It is a bleak winter even during Easter]
Colonel Koblinksy: Do you realize I am a military officer representative of a nonexistant government? Kerensky is gone; the Americans were able to smuggle him into exile. Lenin kissed up to Germany by giving away land and gold to get out of the war; now he has another war on his hands.
Tsar Nicholas II: I have not heard much of wars these days.
Colonel Koblinsky: The Bolsheviks are being threatened with civil war. They just commissioned the Red Army to defend their newly-seized power. Challenging them is the White Army. Mensheviks, Radicals, anarchists, Monarchists, they are all in the fight.
Tsar Nicholas II: Will you join up?
Colonel Koblinsky: My fighting days are over. Whatever side I join; I will kill Russians. Too haunting for me. I will just look after this spot of land. Do you have any money?
Tsar Nicholas II: Not much, why do you ask?
Colonel Koblinksy: Soldiers have been unpaid; the stead is in need of upgrades.
Tsar Nicholas II: The prisoners keep the guard? [chuckling] I should have nominated you as my Minister of Finance; you would have revolutionized the penal system!

External links[edit]

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