MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 475 this week

The Scarlet Empress (1934)

7.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 3,488 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 25 critic

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 »

Writers:

(diary), (diary arranger), 1 more credit »
0Check in
0Share...

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 46 titles
created 18 Mar 2011
 
a list of 49 titles
created 11 months ago
 
a list of 47 titles
created 6 months ago
 
a list of 35 titles
created 3 months ago
 
a list of 31 titles
created 2 weeks ago
 

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Scarlet Empress (1934)

The Scarlet Empress (1934) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Scarlet Empress.

User Polls

1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An elderly professor's ordered life spins dangerously out of control when he falls for a nightclub singer.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron
Dishonored (1931)
Drama | Music | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The Austrian Secret Service sends its most seductive agent to spy on the Russians.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Gustav von Seyffertitz
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young woman, Poppy, out for excitement in Shanghai, enters a gambling house owned by "Mother" Gin Sling, a dragon-lady who worked herself up from poverty to buy the casino. Sir Guy ... See full summary »

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, Victor Mature
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A former Imperial Russian general and cousin of the Czar ends up in Hollywood as an extra in a movie directed by a former revolutionary.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent, William Powell
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The public defender's secretary and an ex-convict get married and try to make a life together, but a series of disasters sends their lives spiraling out of control.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Henry Fonda, Barton MacLane
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, Spottiswoode Aitken
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A pair of lookalikes, one a former French aristocrat and the other an alcoholic English lawyer, fall in love with the same woman amongst the turmoil of the French Revolution.

Directors: Jack Conway, Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan, Edna May Oliver
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In early 19th Century France an ex-convict who failed to report to parole is relentlessly pursued over a 20 year period by an obsessive policeman.

Director: Richard Boleslawski
Stars: Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwicke
Conquest (1937)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A polish countess becomes Napoleon Bonaparte's mistress at the urging of Polish leaders, who feel she might influence him to make Poland independent.

Directors: Clarence Brown, Gustav Machatý
Stars: Greta Garbo, Charles Boyer, Reginald Owen
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Sir Walter Raleigh overcomes court intrigue to win favor with the Queen in order to get financing for a proposed voyage to the New World.

Director: Henry Koster
Stars: Bette Davis, Richard Todd, Joan Collins
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In eighth century China, the Emperor is grieving over the death of his wife. The Yang family wants to provide the Emperor with a consort so that they may consolidate their influence over ... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Sô Yamamura
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Princess Sophia Frederica / Catherine II
John Lodge ...
Count Alexei
...
Louise Dresser ...
...
Prince August
Gavin Gordon ...
Olive Tell ...
Princess Johanna Elizabeth
Ruthelma Stevens ...
Countess Elizabeth 'Lizzie'
Davison Clark ...
Erville Alderson ...
Philip Sleeman ...
Count Lestoq (as Phillip Sleeman)
Marie Wells ...
Marie Tshoglokof
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ...
Ivan Shuvolov (as Hans von Twardowski)
Gerald Fielding ...
Lt. Dmitri
Maria Riva ...
Sophia as a Child (as Maria)
Edit

Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Reigning Beauty of the Screen!

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 September 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Catherine the Great  »

Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Sam Jaffe's film debut. See more »

Goofs

After Catherine stamps with her foot on the gold locket containing the portrait of Count Alexei, smashing it, she then flings it out of the window. The camera follows it as it falls slowly, glistening in the moonlight, through the branches of the tree outside her window, but it is completely undamaged. See more »

Quotes

Grand Duke Peter: I want to play with my toys!
See more »


Soundtracks

1812 Overture in E Flat, Op.49
(1880)
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Excerpts incorporated into the score often
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Garishly Ornate, Complex Vision of Surreal Decadence!

Two gnarled statues of grotesque beasts make love in the garden, a perverse cuckoo clock exposes female bodily organs, a skeletal figure shot through with arrows twists its face in a silent wail towards heaven. This is the decor of "The Scarlet Empress," furnishings which speak more of the film's themes and ideas than the plot could ever be allowed to. The actors remain intentionally wooden; it's as if the world around them was an expression of their suppressed emotions. Shame takes the guise of chairs, but chairs in the shape of gargantuan, deformed old men hiding their stricken faces in hideous fingers. Masochism is occasionally a clock, lust a decorative food display, but all perverse, leering. And death... Everywhere is a ghastly preoccupation with death, icons proudly display decapitation, skeletons stretch themselves over boiling cauldrons, while ghastly statues of tortured corpses lurk in every shadowy corner. Together this creates a world of painful decadence, a disgusting, yet fascinating dreamscape of visual pleasure.

All this takes form and depth, is sculpted by director Sternberg's haunting lighting. It is "his" light, he lords over it, and with it anything is possible. He can make a face beautiful or ugly, innocent or evil. He can accentuate a certain side of a person's nature, or how a specific set piece relates to it, all with the proper illumination.

If his lighting is astounding, equally so is Sternberg's use of the visual motifs in his mise en scene (bells, veils, figures, specific set pieces, etc...) to transport the viewer back and forth through the film. For instance, the binding of Catherine and Peter's hands at their marriage is later echoed by an unquestionably similar knot Catherine ties in a napkin she is fondling, and then tosses onto the table of she and Peter's last meal together. The initiation of their marriage and the initiation of its end are in this way linked, and the audience is forced to take into account the changes in both their characters. Not only does the rhythm of these motifs remain figurative. The movement of the film takes on a distinct rhythm as well. A swinging motif is evident throughout, the bells, the incense burners, Catherine's swing, the hoopskirts, a baby's basket, and so on. In this the film takes the feel of a frenzied, but excellently choreographed dance.

But in all this there is one thing more noteworthy. Marlene Dietrich radiates! Quite possibly the most beautiful woman who ever lived, she begins innocent and virginal (seemingly intentionally melodramatically), standing out in a world of amorality. She is both the happiest and saddest point of the film. Her wedding to the vulgar Peter in an immense, yet claustrophobic cathedral is the most emotional part of the film. As it is filmed entirely in a series of close-ups of individuals, and long shots that blur their faces, there is no discernible eye connection between any of the characters. She is completely alone. As a voyeuristic camera cuts closer and closer to her trembling, veiled face, we suddenly feel the need to turn away. We know now that this last thread of decency is about to be crippled. Soon enough her innocence begins to fade before her sexuality, and the surroundings that once nearly suppressed her, she lords over, a queen of immorality.

"The Scarlet Empress" expresses the essence of film, and why it succeeds as an art form. It creates the possibility of a world almost wholly artificial, divorced from anything that ever was. It retains only fragmentary reproductions of something that existed in a pre-filmed state, combining and distorting them to effect something 90% fake. What's more that seems all it is interested in. No other artistic medium (aside from painting) is viewed worthy of its visuals, and all theatrical, literary, or other requirements are given little attention. They are flippantly thrown in only to please a narrow minded audience, and occasionally (but very, very rarely) to accentuate the films themes. Yet painting, ah yes, painting. That was a medium worthy of a brilliant visionary like Sternberg, and one he transferred to the screen with gusto. "The Scarlet Empress" is to Dali in its obsession with the bizarre, da Vinci in its detail, Picasso in its complexity of associations, but entirely Sternberg in its conception.


36 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anyone know about the art director for this movie? nettwench
Here's a nice topic for you: The infamous dinner table mothboy88
Origin of Dietrich worship Dr_Keating
Isn't this movie relatively famous? mothboy88
rare TV showing James-Morrell
Best DVD transfer brendangcarroll
Discuss The Scarlet Empress (1934) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?