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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark McGann ...


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

power | princess | heir | empire | crown | See All (112) »




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Release Date:

28 April 1996 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Catalina la Grande  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(2 parts) | (3 episodes)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


[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.
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Version of Young Catherine (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Catherine the not so great.
21 September 2002 | by (Tilburg, the Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Having read the other comments on this film (by the way, I saw the 180 minute TV version), it seems to be the general opinion that Catherine Zeta-Jones was excellent. I beg to differ. Not one moment was there in the entire movie where I felt she was the protagonist, as she was supposed to be. If the real Catherine did do things that earned her the nickname "the Great", they were kept out of this movie. Going to extreme lengths to avoid one inch of her body being seen during one of the many nude scenes (then why play them at all?), Zeta-Jones never convinces as a woman of the world, a strong character, able to stand up to her mother-in-law (played brilliantly by Jeanne Moreau), and toying with the emotions of every man around. Instead she is an ice queen. No warmth, no passion, no sincerity. On the other hand, the movie has many fine performances. Ian Richardson, Brian Blessed, John Rhys-Davies (yes, he is well-cast as a violent peasant-soldier), Tim McInnerny as Iwan, aka prisoner number one. And production is beautiful, just look at Catherine's diamonds. They sparkle whereas their wearer doesn't. Does this movie enlighten the viewer about an important era in Russian history? No, but that would be asking a bit much in so little time. But it does tell a story quite entertainingly. Alas, as with many international productions, some people are simply miscast... All in all, 3 out of 4.

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