Helen Mirren as Russian Empress Catherine the Great

The Man

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History can be cruel and few leaders have had a harsher press than Russia’s Catherine the Great.

The empress, played by Helen Mirren in a new series, was a woman of great passions and abilities.

She overthrew her drunken husband, Tsar Peter III, but revitalised and enlarged Russia, turning it into a great power of Europe.

Yet she made many enemies, including her son and successor Paul I. Her legacy was in his hands and one notorious myth follows the highly-sexed queen to this day.

They claim she was crushed to death while having sex with a horse.

But if anyone has the pedigree to set the record straight it’s Helen.

She has played Queen Charlotte in 1994’s The Madness of King George, Elizabeth I in 2005 and in 2006 was Elizabeth II in The Queen, which won her an Oscar.

Helen, 74, who herself has Russian heritage, was intrigued by controversial Catherine, who ruled for 34 years, from 1762 to 1796.

Helen said: “She knew how to charm people, but also manipulate and blackmail them. What she did to survive was extraordinary.”

Catherine proved her military might by conquering vast swathes of land. She kept power by killing any rivals and never taking a second husband to replace Peter, who died in 1762.

She continued to have many lovers – as she had during her marriage – most of them far younger.

The heart of Sky Atlantic’s four-part period drama is Catherine’s enduring love of Grigory Pokemkin, played by Jason Clarke, 50.

Potemkin commanded her armies, won wars in her name and, some historians claim, actually married Catherine in secret.

Helen said: “It was love at first sight. It absolutely overwhelmed her physically and mentally and she was besotted with him.

“I think it’s one of the great love stories of our history.

“But they were very much oil and water. They could never settle down comfortably together. He went off to conquer Turkey and the Crimea, so was always off on military expeditions in the name of the empire and expansion.”

The passionate couple would send each other several love letters a day.
Much more: Helen Mirren discusses new TV role as Empress of Russia Catherine The Great

Interesting...

You know, in Russia itself, Catherine (or, Ekaterina, actually hehe) is still a much discussed historical figure; there's been numerous recent films and TV dramas and musicals about her; but they all tend to focus on the early years of her reign, on a YOUNG and beautful Catherine, and all the many men in her life then, when she was, all of a sudden, left, in her 20s, on the throne of a huge country, with unimaginable wealth and power in her hands; and, of course, countless suitors threw themselves at her feet, and she very much indulged herself with them hehe


She is historically known as the "Wild Empress" ("Shalnaya Imperatritsa") for all the drunken debauchery and orgies that went on at her palaces in those days lmao

Her latter, older years, however, are not much talked about, if at all, for whatever reason... I suppose, especially to Russian audiences, it is not glamorous and sexy enough lol

Catherine is revered over there, for annexing Crimea in first place, among other things :)

She also set up the nation's first public school system, among other things...

And she could, too, he ruthless and merciless, when needed. I read of an episode, for example, where she was told that one of the ladies from her court entourage was basically talking crap about her behind her back. On the orders of the Empress, that woman was stripped naked, in public, and flogged and beaten to a bloody pulp. Her tongue was then ripped out from her mouth. And then, she was exiled for life to some God forsaken shithole in Siberia. To be fair, that was actually KIND of Catherine, by the standards of the Romanov Dynasty. Under any other monarch of that line, badmouthing the ruling royal was usually a death penalty offense :)

I have heard also the rumors about the bestiality, specifically with horses.

Wonder if Madam Mirren will be reenacting that too. Hope not, but, Hollywood is Hollywood hahaha
 
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I'm looking forward to the series. For history buffs, there are some great podcasts available.

I'm currently listening to a few of Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History". Can't say I agree with even half of his perspectives, but he does present a lot of well researched data.
 
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Good choice ... she's a great actress, as well. Dame Helen Mirren.

She was born Helen Lydia Mironof at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in Hammersmith, London, the daughter of Kathleen "Kitty" Alexandrina Eva Matilda (née Rogers; 1909–1996) and Vasily Petrovich Mironoff (1913–1980). Her mother was English and her father was Russian, originally from Kuryanovo, Smolensk Oblast. Mirren's paternal grandfather, Colonel Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov, was in the Imperial Russian Army and fought in the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. He later became a diplomat and was negotiating an arms deal in Britain when his family and he were stranded by the Russian Revolution. The former diplomat became a London cab driver to support his family and settled down in England.

His son, Helen's father, anglicised the family name to Mirren in the 1950s and changed his name to Basil Mirren. He played the viola with the London Philharmonic before World War II and later drove a taxi cab and was a driving-test examiner, before becoming a civil servant with the Ministry of Transport. Mirren's mother was a working-class Londoner from West Ham, East London, the 13th of 14 children born to a butcher whose own father had been the butcher to Queen Victoria. Mirren considers her upbringing to have been "very anti-monarchist". Mirren was the second of three children; she was born three years after her older sister, Katherine ("Kate"; born 1942), and also had a younger brother, Peter Basil (1948–2002). Her cousin was model and Bond girl Tania Mallet; Mallet's mother and Mirren's father were siblings. Mirren was brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

~Wiki
 

The Man

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I'm looking forward to the series. For history buffs, there are some great podcasts available.

I'm currently listening to a few of Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History". Can't say I agree with even half of his perspectives, but he does present a lot of well researched data.
It was an interesting period in Russian history, for sure...

As that trailer mentions, you know, Catherine (born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst) wasn't even actually Russian or Romanov by birth, she was a German princess who married into the Romanov clan and then, by a stroke of luck (and due to an aristocrat she was sleeping with poisoning her husband for her lol) ended up on the throne.

Coming from Europe, which, even back then, was much more civilized, she must have been absolutely fucking terrified of Russia... In fact, I have read some accounts about how the peasant serfdom over there at the time, essentially slavery no less harsh as Africans suffered in the US South, disturbed her greatly; she wanted even to abolish it there and then, but faced too great a push back, her advisers warned her that the wealthy land baron aristocracy would revolt against her over that...

But, she certainly struck against it when she could.

There was also, in 2017, a Russian TV drama, "Krovavaya Barynia" ("Bloody Lady")

It chronicled the (real) life of an aristocrat woman Daria Saltykova, who lived in Catherine's era.

Saltykova seemed, in the high society, as a perfectly normal woman, she went to the balls, danced and flirted happily with men

and, all in all, functioned perfectly well, in public. Nobody would have suspected her of any wrongdoing.

Empress Catherine herself held her in high regard, and accepted her into her entourage!


Behind closed doors, however, she was a total violent, sadistic psycho, who engaged in absolutely terrifying abuse of her peasant serfs at her estate


As the show depicts, Saltykova's serfs were accustomed to often quietly burying their own the Barynia had beat and tortured to death


Violence from her was a part of their daily existence


As also shown in the series, Saltykova even reportedly took baths in the blood of young virgins from among her serfs

She believed it would keep her eternally young... In part due to that, many of the peasants believed she was a vampire, and feared hr greatly as such; and to this day she is seen as almost a Dracula-like figure in Russian history lol

She had equally scary henchmen and women among the peasants to assist her in her gruesome endeavors too

:D

Even in those days, however, even centuries before the Internet and such, things had a way of leaking out; Saltykova's private horrors could only stay private so long; her peasants, even terrified mostly into silence as they were, still talked to OTHER peasants, some of whom perhaps mentioned the awful shit they heard to their own Lords and Ladies...

One way or another, eventually, this all got back to Catherine; who, in an unprecedented move, signed off an order to ARREST Saltykova for abusing her peasants!


Arrested she was

If I recall correctly, she then ended up locked away in some monastery for the rest of her life...

So, yeah, Catherine actually stood up for the downtrodden lower classes of Russia, in her own way, as much as the circumstances allowed her too...

Catherine also did much to develop science and higher education in Russia; she was a lifelong patron of the famous scholar and scientist Mikhail Lomonosov (wrote about him here: Mikhail Lomonosov)

He opened Russia's first real own university, which is to this day the greatest university of that whole part of the world; made possible also by Catherine's support and protection, absolutely.

Fascinating woman, totally...

Good choice ... she's a great actress, as well. Dame Helen Mirren.
She's a top actress, and if nothing else, her feminist side will ensure that she plays the role sympathetically to Catherine.

https://www.biography.com/actor/helen-mirren
I liker her too.

She was badass and funny in the "Red" and "red 2" movies, which I loved lol
:D

Did a great job as Queen Elizabeth too haha

I gather Elizabeth herself liked it also

;)
 
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This, I'll have to see. I look forward to a reminder (since I'm unlikely to remember a month from now).
I'm sure HBO will advertise the shit out of it.

At the moment, I'm a little ticked at Starz for their heavy, and I mean heavy, advertisement of Power. I'm laid up with a broken foot and everytime I watch something on Starz, I have to sit through a Power commercial. WTF? It's a paid streaming service, I shouldn't have to watch commercials like Crackle.
 

The Man

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I'm sure HBO will advertise the shit out of it.

At the moment, I'm a little ticked at Starz for their heavy, and I mean heavy, advertisement of Power. I'm laid up with a broken foot and everytime I watch something on Starz, I have to sit through a Power commercial. WTF? It's a paid streaming service, I shouldn't have to watch commercials like Crackle.
I'm sure HBO will advertise the shit out of it.

At the moment, I'm a little ticked at Starz for their heavy, and I mean heavy, advertisement of Power. I'm laid up with a broken foot and everytime I watch something on Starz, I have to sit through a Power commercial. WTF? It's a paid streaming service, I shouldn't have to watch commercials like Crackle.
This?

Haven't watched it before, but kinda want to now... lol

I don't use paid streaming services, to be honest. There are all sorts of pirate sites out there, my friend :)

The Russian ones especially have just about every show and film you can imagine. It's not like in the days of the Iron Curtain. Most shows we have here are translated and broadcast in Russian on their TV too. I was shocked, for instance, to learn that not only do they have "Riverdale" over there (including all the gay characters and their scenes lmao), but it is insanely popular, with a huge, cultish fan following among young people haha :D

We live in a very, very different world than even our parents did 30 years ago...
 
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Ian Jeffrey

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We live in a very, very different world than even our parents did 30 years ago...
Some of the people on this board are your parents' age and remember things as they were 30 years ago - as things experienced, not as history. (And I was in West Germany in my early 20s when the east bloc fell apart in '89.)