PBS’ Catherine the Great
Love period film and television? Want more on Catherine the Great than the 1995 version starring Catherine Zeta-Jones offered or the 1934 “Scarlett Empress”/Marlene Deitrich? Now actress Emily Bruni portrays the Empress in dramatic re-creations that include candid excerpts from Catherine’s own writings.
She was a teenage bride from an obscure German principality who went on to become perhaps the most influential ruler in Russian history. She was a student of the Enlightenment, yet never improved the miserable conditions of Russian serfs. She was the passionate advocate of education and the arts who created the renowned Hermitage collection—and a cunning political strategist who dramatically expanded
Now a two-hour PBS documentary illuminates the dynamic woman behind the lurid legend: Catherine the Great airs in two parts on PBS beginning Monday, May 8, 2006, 10 to11 p.m. ET (check local listings); Part 2 airs Monday, May 15, 2006, 10 to 11 p.m. ET (check local listings).
The special is produced by Brook Lapping Productions. The company’s three-hour documentary, “Exclusive Peace,” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, aired on PBS in October 2005. Catherine the Great was written, produced and directed by John-Paul Davidson (who directed the Michael Palin travel documentaries
The woman who was to become one of the most influential rulers of
Sophie, who viewed
Catherine confessed in her memoirs that she felt indifferent toward her husband — but, she said, “I was not indifferent to the Russian throne.” She became an avid student of politics and of the Enlightenment, reading the works of Voltaire and Diderot. When
Peter, with his Prussian obsession and mental instability, quickly earned the enmity of
During her 34-year reign, Catherine instituted sweeping changes in