The film's final, hypnotic dance sequence was a recreation of a 1913 gathering which marked the final ball ever held in Tsarist Russia. It should be noted that the sequence was filmed in the exact same ballroom that was used in 1913, and that the room had not been used for dancing since that pre-revolutionary time.
Among the many problems that plagued the one-day-only production, there was a considerable language barrier. Director Aleksandr Sokurov speaks only Russian, and cinematographer Tilman Büttner speaks only German, so a translator followed the duo around (along with Büttner's seven-man crew) to keep the communication open.
The snowy courtyard that Catherine II walked through in the movie was covered and full of tropical plants and animals from around the world when Catherine II lived there. This second floor courtyard is now filled with statues and lilac bushes.