Catherine the Great is a 1995 german Television Movie based on the life of Empress Catherine II of Russia. The biopic stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Brian Blessed and Paul McGann.
Besides aired on television, the film was released on Region 1 DVD on February 27, 2001 by A&E Home Video.
- Directed by: Marvin J. Chomsky, John Goldsmith
- Produced by: Marvin J. Chomsky, Wolf Bauer, Kurt J. Mrwicka, Fred Sidewater, Carla Thoeren, Konstantin Thoeren
- Written by: John Goldsmith, Frank Tudisco
- Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Brian Blessed, Paul McGann, Ian Richardson, Jeanne Moreau
- Music by: Laurence Rosanthal
- Cinematography: Elemer Ragalyi
- Edited by: Petra von Oelffen
- Country: Germany, Austria, U.K.
- Language: English
- Running time: 180 minutes
- Release date: 1995
- Distributed by: E&A, New Video, Eurovideo
Born in Germany as Princess Sophia Augusta Fredericka, the noblewoman renamed (by the Empress Elizabeth of Russia) Catherine (Catherine Zeta-Jones) goes to her arranged marriage with the immature future Czar of Russia: the Grand Duke Peter (Hannes Jaenicke), nephew of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia. The marriage is not made of love but for political and strategic reasons. None of them are in love with each other, so they sleep in separate rooms of the Palace.
After seven years of marriage, the Empress Elizabeth (Jeanne Moreau) finds out that his nephew the Grand Duke Peter has phimosis, and that he hasn't consummate his marriage with Catherine in all this seven years. So she convinces the young and handsome nobleman Saltykov (Craig McLachlan) to seduce Catherine to get her pregnant and to grant a heir to the Throne.
Saltykov success on his mission and is about to have a baby, but Catherine gets in love with Saltykov not knowing the deception.
Eventually the Grand Duke Peter has surgery and is able to have sexual relationships. He grants a mistress (Veronica Ferres) for himself and he also rapes Catherine one night.
One night at a reception, Catherine talks with the Empress' Chancellor Bestuzhev (Brian Blessed). Bestuzhev thinks that, since she's a german, Catherine is a traitor who secretly supports Prusia in the Seven Years War. Catherine immediately calms him and tells him that she supports Russia dearly and that she's not like her husband (who secretly supports Prusia, rivals of the russians in the Seven Years War).
In exchange for the support, the Chancellor reveals to Catherine that Saltykov is not in love with her and that he's acting following to orders of the Empress.
After some months, Catherine gives birth to a son (named Paul) but he's immediately taken away from her by the Empress Elizabeth who wants to raise him. Later on, Saltykov comes to see Catherine to complaint they can't see their son. But Catherine cuts him off abruptly and asks him if what he wanted was a title after the favor he has done to the Empress. She faces him about his deception to her and she cuts any further contact with him.
As the time goes by, the position of the Grand Duke Peter about his support to Prusia in the Seven Years War becomes more and more clear infuriating Catherine. One night Bestuzhev and Catherine write a letter (without the Empress' permission) cheering the russian troops against Prusia. But the letter is intercepted by the Empress' right hand Vorontzov (Ian Richardson).
So the Empress calls Catherine to ask for an explanation. Catherine tell the empress that she didn't plot against her and that she wrote the letter with good intentions. She also tells her than she will never plot against her but that she intends to plot against her husband the Grand Duke Peter when he becomes Czar. The Empress lets Catherine go back hoping Catherine can reign someday since she sees "greatness" in her.
Meanwhile Catherine finds a new lover: the brave Captain Potemkin (Paul McGann). She got pregnant with his baby but hides her pregancy, gives birth in secret and gives her son to a wealthy family.
When Empress Elizabeth dies, Peter is named the new Czar and he inmediately put Russia supporting
Prusia at the Seven Years War, he also quits all the treasures from the chruch and takes them to himself.
So Catherine, who has the favor of the Army and of the Church, decides to put a conclusion to her conspiracy. And on 28 June 1762, Catherine rallied the troops of Saint Petersburg to her support and declared herself Catherine II, the sole sovereign ruler of Russia.
She has Peter arrested and forces him to sign an act of abdication. Later on Peter is murdered by the Russian troops.
During her reign, Catherine has to face two pretendients to the throne: two impostors who claim to be from the Romanov's dinasty. Catherine executed them, not before having a period of reluctancy about their destiny. This executions put an end to her relationship with Potemkin who considers that executions heartless.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones - Catherine II of Russia
- Brian Blessed - Chancellor Bestuzhev
- Paul McGann - Captain Pontemkin
- Ian Richardson - Chancellor Vorontzov
- Jeanne Moreau - Empress Elizabeth of Russia
- Craig McLachlan - Saltykov
- Hannes Jaenicke - Czar Peter III
- John Rhys-Davies - Pugachev
- Veronica Ferres - Vorontzova
- Agnes Soral - Countess Bruce