Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Movie Review: The Rise of Catherine the Great

I have a problem watching old old movies. They aren't bad but they almost always have a few quirks. And this is the most frustrating movie I've seen in a long time. Catherine the Great is one of the most fascinating historical figures I can think of. While since she was a royal I can't call her self-made she became what she was largely through sheer force of will. She ain't inherit Peter's epithet for nothin'.

All I'm saying is the woman lived an interesting life. And the movie is telling the story wrong. It doesn't lie..much  it just takes really interesting events, and robs them of context and emotion.

My main problem is it's a movie about a royal court that doesn't feel like a royal court. It all plays more like a social club. With the love hate relationship between Peter III and Catherine the great as the most interesting topic of conversation.  But those aren't the stakes and everybody knows it.

It's the game of thrones. You play to win or you die. And Peter died. History casts the two of them as Cersei and Robert but with Cersei being cast in the role of the victorious hero of her nation's golden age, keep in mind golden ages are relative and almost all of them involve some blasted war of "glory" with a lot of bodies and Catherine was no stranger to bayonet.  Beyond that though I know the story can be told in a compelling way.

I want to forgive it because this was in an age before a lot of the editing tricks we use to tell the audience, something is awesome were invented. But it feels like a dry stage play. The it conveys too much information to the audience via dialogue. It was the 30's budgets were limited. I want to forgive it for that but damn is the story of Catherine the Great deserving of something better than this.

I've seen stories come close in theme and tone.

I like stories about old fashioned power struggles largely because the figures who tend find themselves involved in one tend to be engaging.

Movie Catherine just isn't.

Let me lay some history on you.

  1.  This Catherine is one of the few monarchs history is chill with in the age of revolution.
  2. In a lot of ways she finished what Peter The Great started, the modernization of Russia. Meaning her reign was a time of great transformation with all the blowback it implies
  3. She was a military boss. She hung around (among other things) generals and knew how to talk their language. It's unclear how much of Russia's military victories at the time were on them or her. 
  4. Like I said before she came out victorious in an epic power struggle with her husband she came out because she understood the politics of Russia better than he did and keep in mind she was an outsider.
  5. Her and Elizabeth of Russia are known for being incredibly strong willed to rule in the courts they did with the authority they did. This is my major beef with the film. That iron will is seen only in opposition the misogyny but both these women were leading their countries into and through wars at a time when because of their sex a lot of folks would have written their commands off as obedience to an unknown puppet master or worse the fancies of a woman. But they handled it like a boss. There is a good movie in there. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Facebook Comments

Note: These Comments are from all across this blog.