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Catherine Zeta-Jones The Great 1995 Empress of all the Rus


Jerry
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Catherine Zeta-Jones (MASK OF ZORRO, TRAFFIC) portrays the legendary German princess in this made-for-TV epic. In 1744, young Sophia is crowned Catherine II, wife of Peter (Hannes Jaenicke), a horrible despot and ruler of Russia. Soon Catherine rises above her oppressive environment to become the famed Czarina of Russia. The film is helmed by the great TV-movie director Marvin Chomsky, who earlier made HOLOCAUST, ROOTS, and VICTORY AT ENTEBBE, among others.

 

I discovered this VHS in my collection and watched it tonight. They could not compress all the drama and pageantry of her reign but they skimmed some high spots. Featured Jeanne Moreau as the Czarina Elizabeth, Mel Ferrer, John Rhys-Davies, and surprise: Christoph Waltz from Tarantino's BASTERDS. Yes, the Nazi colonel who in real life has a son who is a rabbi in Israel.

 

They show a tiny bit of the battle with the Turks. They did not use my favorite quote -- when the Russian general says "I have (?) troops -- how big is their army? Catherine replies, The Roman generals never asked how many the enemy had. They only asked 'WHERE ARE THEY?"

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Uh, only in moderation -- the whole list slapping partners would have taken more than the two hours allotted. The writer had Catherine saying 'pity about the Tower of Babel, or else the whole world could be speaking French'. I thought that was amusing. Orloff gets barely five or 10 minutes in the story. Forgot to say that Brian Blessed was her Asst Chancellor. He chews the scenery.

 

Oh, and Jeanne Moreau has a old-man toy with Omar Sharif -- AT THEIR AGES !!!

 

I guess the Romans recycled a lot of Greek lore. There's some dinner table discussion with Latin aphorisms -- who said that?

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Obs, this was a made for TV series in 1995 -- when I doubt M.D. was in her sights. The part where she marries future Peter III at age 15 is taken from a distance, but the story picks up at age 22 with the marriage unconsummated. Elizabeth says: I didn't bring her here to read books. CZJ was 26 when playing 22.

 

I don't believe it was ever put into theatrical release -- and the 2 hour DVD was an edited summary from a larger plan. The DVD became available through our A & E cable channel.

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