The Scarlet Empress

Watch The Scarlet Empress

"The Reigning Beauty of the Screen!"
  • Passed
  • 1934
  • 1 hr 44 min
  • 7.5  (7,221)

The Scarlet Empress is a historical drama film from 1934 that is directed by Josef von Sternberg. The movie stars the legendary Marlene Dietrich as Catherine II(Russia), John Lodge as Grand Duke Peter, and Sam Jaffe as Count Alexei. The Scarlet Empress is a story of the young German Princess Sophia Frederica who is brought to the court of Empress Elizabeth in Russia to marry the heir, the Grand Duke Peter. However, when she arrives, she realizes that the palace is a hotbed of cruelty and corruption, with Elizabeth mistreating her own family and those around her. Sophia, played by Marlene Dietrich, soon finds herself entangled in a web of palace intrigue and political machinations that threatens not only her happiness but the safety of her country.

As she adapts to her new surroundings and learns the ropes of palace life, Sophie is mentored by the handsome Count Alexei (Sam Jaffe), who teaches her the secrets of Russian royalty. Meanwhile, the Grand Duke Peter is growing increasingly jealous and vindictive, plotting against his own fiancee and even offering her up to his own men for sexual favors.

Despite the danger and chaos that surround her, Sophie refuses to be cowed or broken. With her intelligence and cunning, she slowly rises through the ranks of the court, accumulating allies and enemies along the way. In time, she becomes Catherine the Great, one of the most powerful and influential rulers in Russian history.

The Scarlet Empress is a grand epic that is rich in detail, texture, and mood. The sets and costumes are opulent and sumptuous, evoking the grandeur and decadence of 18th-century Russia. The film is shot in black and white, creating a stark, austere visual style that complements the harshness and brutality of the story.

Marlene Dietrich delivers one of her finest performances as the young Sophie. She embodies the character with a combination of vulnerability, strength, and sensuality, making her a compelling and fascinating presence on-screen. Her chemistry with Sam Jaffe is palpable, and their scenes together crackle with tension and intrigue.

John Lodge's performance as the Grand Duke Peter is equally impressive, creating a character that is both repellent and pitiable. He imbues the role with a sense of childishness and insecurity that ultimately leads to his downfall.

The Scarlet Empress is a highly stylized and theatrical film, with a strong emphasis on symbolism and metaphor. The camera often lingers on objects such as mirrors, candles, and masks, implying hidden meanings and deeper truths. The film also features several dream sequences, which add a surreal and otherworldly quality to the story.

Overall, The Scarlet Empress is a masterpiece of classic Hollywood cinema. It is a bold and ambitious film that attempts to capture the power and complexity of Catherine the Great's reign in all its glory and horror. With its stunning visuals, compelling performances, and haunting imagery, it remains a must-see for fans of historical drama and cinematic artistry.

The Scarlet Empress is a 1934 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 44 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5.

The Scarlet Empress
Where to Watch The Scarlet Empress
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 44 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (7,221)