Those of you who are interested in historical drama might be interested in Ekaterina, a dramatisation of the transformation of a young and unimportant German Princess into Catherine the Great, on Prime. It covers the same story and period as Von Sternberg’s The Scarlett Empress. It’s got excellent production and a charismatic cast with Empress Elizabeth (Julia Aug) foregrounded here much more than in other narratives. What made it so interesting for me is that it’s Russian; it was ostensibly a big hit there and much talked about. It’s interesting to see the story of Catherine the Great’s seizing of the Russian throne from a Russian point-of-view and difficult to see some of the faults outside that context; the patriotism is tied to a particular rough type of masculinity; the villain of the piece is Fredrick the Great (Hartmut Kurg), made villainous through his sodomy and his love of culture; likewise Peter III (Alexandr Yatsenko) is seen to be too interested in the arts, too unpatriotic and not masculine enough to inherit the throne. So all the homophobia etc of the culture is subtly evident throughout the work, but very glamorous and enjoyable to see in spite of that; and certainly informative.Marina Alexandrova gives a great star performance as Ekaterina: charismatic, beautiful, glamorous but also capable of conveying subtle, wide-ranging and even simultaneous and contradictory registers of emotion. She’s great.
The series is directed by Alexandr Baranov and Ramil Sabitóv; and written by Arif Eliev and Elena Palmer
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