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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
Catherine Zeta-Jones is connected to the Doctor Who franchise in a few ways. She co-started with Sean Pertwee in Blue Jeans. Sean is the son of the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee. In this film she co-stars with Paul McGann, who played the 8th Doctor in the TV Movie & The Night of the Doctor special. See more »
When Catherine trades in her virginity to get pregnant, the skin of her mate's back and legs is tanned, while his buttocks are perfectly white. There were neither sunbathing nor a pair of trunks in 18th century. See more »
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.
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It's 1745. Catherine (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a 15 year old princess of a small German principality pushed into an arranged political marriage to Grand Duke Peter by Czarina Elizabeth. After 7 years, they still haven't consummate the marriage and Elizabeth arranges to get an heir at all costs. Catherine learns to play politics and maneuver the palace intrigue. She has a son but Peter continues to be abusive. She joins forces with Bestuzhev (Brian Blessed) to continue the war against the Prussians while Peter and Vorontzov (Ian Richardson) are pushing to end it. The Czarina wants victory but she dies. Peter is crowned Czar and ends the war. Catherine falls for military man Potemkin (Paul McGann). She seizes control with military and church support. She kills Peter and expands the empire by defeating the Ottoman Empire. She aims to end serfdom and reform society but is pushed back. When Pugachev (John Rhys-Davies) pleads for reforms, he is imprisoned. He escapes and eventually takes on the identity of the deceased Czar Peter leading a revolt.
This is slightly before Catherine Zeta-Jones attains her full stardom. She shows quite a lot of charisma and some sexuality for this TV movie. However there is limited style and a less-than-dramatic script. It's a historical costume drama of highlights of a great ruler. It tries to be a romance melodrama but the audience can never buy any of her relationships. She tries her hardest but this is not great romantic material. She and Paul McGann have limited chemistry. They mostly yell or overact in a romantic melodrama. There are other great actors in this and they do some good work especially Ian Richardson. The action is limited and staged amateurishly. The main bright spot is Zeta-Jones and it's interesting to see her lead this.
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