Young Princess Sophia of Germany is taken to Russia to marry the half-wit Grand Duke Peter, son of the Empress. The domineering Empress hopes to improve the royal blood line. Sophia doesn't like her husband, but she likes Russia, and is very fond of Russian soldiers. She dutifully produces a son -- of questionable fatherhood, but no one seems to mind that. After the old empress dies, Sophia engineers a coup d'etat with the aid of the military, does away with Peter, and becomes Catherine the Great.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. This was released on DVD 8 May 2001 as part of the Criterion Collection, and, since that time, has also enjoyed occasional airings on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies. See more »
Catherine II is a woman of the 18th century, yet Dietrich depicts her with the depilated eyebrows and cupid-bow lips that were fashionable in 1934. See more »
The equine theme running through this bizarre, campy, creepy, cynical, disturbingly beautiful bio-pic is quite significant, given the facts of the life and death of Catherine the Great, culminating in the wildly over-the-top final shot. This movie just drips with European social and sexual decadence, and also with incredibly lavish and languid imagery throughout. Dietrich and von Sternberg seem determined to prove that they could make the transformation of a naive romantic girl into a lascivious power-mad monarch somehow heroic, and also that American audiences would lap it up while denying the depth of the depravity they were embracing. This movie succeeds on every level, especially the subversive one...
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