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... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay (from a based-on-actual event novel by Michiro Maruyana translated by Younghill Kang) ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
85/100. A rather unusual film, director Josef von Sternberg's stylish and offbeat direction certainly makes this an interesting movie. What a production, the art direction is amazing, as are the costumes. You can see von Sternberg's eye for the visual throughout the film, particularly in the dramatic cinematography and use of shadows and light. The cast is great. Marlene Deitrich is hauntingly beautiful, Louise Dresser is impressive as Empress Petrovna and Sam Jaffe does well as the half-wit, Grand Duke Peter. The score is powerful, and also occasionally intrusive. Although released in 1934, it has silent film elements in it, perhaps von Sternberg was not quite comfortable with talking pictures. Overall, it's quite a remarkable film.
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