THE SCARLET EMPRESS is a movie directed by Josef von Sternberg in 1934.
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The young princess Sophia Frederica of Prussia has been chosen by the Tsarina Elizabeth to become the wife of the Grand Duke Peter. Sophia arrives in Moscow with the romantic hope to marry the Prince Charming but Peter is a half-wit fiancé who prefers to play with his toys rather than to charm the unfortunate Sophia.
The Tsarina is a domineering woman who forces Sophia to change her name to a more Russian one : Catherine. The young Grand Duchess Catherine quickly understands that she won't be let in peace before having given an heir to the Russian throne. An officer of the guard will replace Peter in Catherine's bed and, nine months later, she'll give birth to a son.
During the next months, Catherine, who becomes tougher every day, observes carefully the customs of this decadent court because she knows that she'll be in danger as soon as the Empress Elizabeth dies. When the old Tsarina passes over, Catherine will have then already seduced the higher officers of the Russian army who'll help her to overthrow Peter.
THE SCARLET EMPRESS is a superb portrait of a woman, immersed in a semi-barbarian world, who learns very quickly the way to manipulate the right people at the right time. It's also a unique performance of Marlene Dietrich who haunts with a tremendous presence the frenzied sets created by Von Sternberg.
The review of this Movie prepared by Daniel Staebler