The many screen faces of Catherine the Great

The many screen faces of Catherine the Great
by Cláudio Alves

Hulu's The Great is just the latest in a long string of portrayals of Catherine II of Russia, most commonly known as Catherine the Great. Since the time of the silents she's been a recurring topic for filmmakers, whether they're portraying her as the sex-crazed tyrant some propaganda painted her as, or trying to celebrate the legend and legacy of her time as empress. The Great makes her the spunky heroine of a black comedy, but she's also been a romantic lead and a romance's foil, an innocent pawn, and a Machiavellian master.

Looking back at the documentation we have about the real Catherine, one thing's for certain – she was incommensurably more interesting than any single movie character can ever hope to be. That's not going to stop us from exploring her various screen portrayals…
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