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Catherine the Great (1995)

Trapped in a loveless arranged marriage to the immature future Czar, a young German Princess proves a skillful political infighter and rises to become Catherine the Great.
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The most renowned and the longest - ruling female leader of Russia. Catherine II was the Empress of Russia for 34 years, She came to power following the assassination of her husband. Russia... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Catherine Zeta-Jones ... Catherine
Paul McGann ... Potemkin
Ian Richardson ... Vorontzov
Brian Blessed ... Bestuzhev
John Rhys-Davies ... Pugachev
Craig McLachlan ... Saltykov
Hannes Jaenicke ... Peter
Agnès Soral ... Countess Bruce
Mark McGann ... Orlov
Karl Johnson ... Sheshkovsky
Stephen McGann ... Alexis Orlov
Veronica Ferres ... Vorontzova
Mel Ferrer ... Patriarch
Jeanne Moreau ... Elizabeth
Omar Sharif ... Razumovsky
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Storyline

In this romanticized biography, a small German principality's inexperienced princess, Catherine, becomes the bride of czarevitch Peter, the mad and abusive nephew and heir of the Russian czarina Elizabeth. From Elizabeth she learns the cynical ropes of wielding absolute imperial power at any cost, including sacrificing her lover, young guards officer Saltykov, who must give her an heir that Peter can't and is then sent abroad. After Elizabeth's death, she quickly moves to seize power with military and court support. She then works to enlarge and modernize the empire, again putting statesmanship ahead of her lover, a military genius who defeats the Ottomans and governs the conquered territories for her. Written by KGF Vissers

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Details

Country:

Germany | Austria | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 April 1996 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Catalina la Grande See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(2 parts) | (3 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jeanne Moreau (Elizabeth) played Catherine in Great Catherine (1969). See more »

Goofs

When Catherine borrows the wooden cross from Potemkin, it is hanging from a simple string. But when she gives it back, it has been strung with matching wooden beads. There is no explanation if this is a different prop or if Catherine added the beads herself. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Catherine: The 21st of August 1745... my wedding day. I was fifteen. The Grand Duke Peter was two years older, and we were both pawns in a political game.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Approx. 80 minutes were deleted from the US version by A&E compared to the original German version which was shown in 2 parts a 90 minutes. See more »

Connections

Version of Young Catherine (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A good cast wasted in aimless spectacle
12 June 2001 | by snauntonSee all my reviews

The Empress Elizabeth II rules mid-eighteenth century Russia. She marries her heir, the physically impotent German prince Peter, to the German princess, Catherine (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Catherine takes a lover, bears a child, plots against her husband and deposes him after he has reigned only six months. She becomes the Empress Catherine II. Well-educated and with liberal ideas, she is an astute politician and wages war with success. Yet when rebellion confronts her with the choice between fostering freedom and suppressing rebellion, she chooses suppression.

Catherine II was a fascinating and complex ruler, the period was crucial in determining the future course of Russia, its expansionary empire, its reactionary society and primitive economy. This film, however, addresses none of these great themes, except in the most cursory and superficial manner. It is a shallow drama of empty spectacle, in which intimate diversions are followed by unconvincing public events, battles and rebellions. The psychological characteristics of the protagonists, the motivations that drive them, the reasons for their decisions are all left unexplained. "There are great matters at stake", says Catherine to Potyomkin (Paul McGann), but we are never told what they are. Such rationalizations as do emerge involve the anachronistic importation of late twentieth-century western liberal concerns into eighteenth-century Russian society.

Television drama need not seem cheap. This film does. There is a good cast, but the dialogue is empty and its delivery perfunctory, although Ian Richardson's Vorontsov is done well and Brian Blessed is surprisingly well-moduated (and exceptionally quiet) as Bestuzhev. Generally, the cast seems dispirited by the trite, thin, lines they are asked to utter. One hundred minutes spent watching Miss Zeta-Jones will always have its rewards. None the less, she is miscast. Most particularly, her voice is in its nature contemporary and middle class, with its very modern inability correctly to pronounce the letter 'r'; it is unsuitable to the role of an eighteenth century aristocrat and Empress. The set pieces are sparse and unconvincing and the direction humdrum.

The story and this cast deserved better than this slight spectacle.


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