The Scarlet Empress

Movie Information

In Brief: Josef von Sternberg belongs in the very top ranks of any list of the greatest filmmakers of all time — and nowhere is this more apparent than in his self-described “relentless excursion into style,” The Scarlet Empress. Bearing the improbable credit that the film is “based on a diary of Catherine II” that was “arranged by Manuel Komroff” (whatever that means), the film is Sternberg’s wild, woolly and excessive version of Catherine the Great’s (Marlene Dietrich) rise to power. It offers a series of jaw-dropping gorgeous and fantasticated set pieces that is unlike anything else ever made. And though Sternberg never owned up to it being anything other than an essay in style, it’s a film with a point about the effects of political power, if only in the final shot of Dietrich, which suggests that she’s not only assumed the throne, but the mental state of her predecessor. This is one of the great films. This excerpt was taken from a review by Ken Hanke published on Nov. 16, 2005.
Genre: Historical Drama
Director: Josef von Sternberg
Starring: Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, Louise Dresser
Rated: NR

The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Scarlet Empress on Sunday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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