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Maximilian Schell in the role of Peter the Great in the 1985 American TV mini-series Peter the Great. The tsar was shown in a fairly traditional way as a harsh reformer, a capricious man set against the glittering backdrop of St Petersburg’s palaces, and at the same a talented politician.
Catherine Zeta-Jones in the role of Catherine II in the American TV mini-series Catherine the Great is transformed from a princess from a small German principality into a powerful empress who stages a palace coup to depose her husband Peter III so that she can seize power. The series shows the reforms that resulted in the beginnings of enlightened absolutism in the country and brought suffering to the peasantry, while a love story is played out against the backdrop of state intrigues.
Christopher Guest plays Ivan the Terrible in the 2009 American film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. The security guard Larry once again finds himself drawn into night-time adventures in the Museum of Natural History, where Napoleon, Lincoln and the Pharaohs stalk the corridors, as well as Ivan IV, or Ivan the Terrible, who is infamous for his quick temper and cruelty.
The film Raspoutine may have been what first sparked Gérard Depardieu’s love for Russia. In 2011 he played Grigory Rasputin in this Franco-Russian production, which tells the story of how the close friend of the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, met his end. Grigory Rasputin’s personality has always given rise to a multitude of rumours, and the film pulls back the curtain just a little on the secret: was he friend or foe?
The Rasputin series was awarded three Golden Globes, including one for Alan Rickman for his performance in the main role. The production is a historical drama which accurately portrays the Russian nature of Grigory Rasputin – he is shown as a friend of the Romanov family, and the main confidant of Emperor Nicholas II, played by Ian McKellen.
"Fall of Eagles"
Patrick Stewart, a leading member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for 27 years, has twice been nominated for a Golden Globe and is best known for his role as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men films. He plays Vladimir Lenin – the leader of Russia’s October Revolution – in the British series Fall of Eagles.
The film The Assassination of Trotsky tells the story of Lev Trotsky, chief ideologist of the communist movement, organiser of the October Revolution and creator of the Red Army. He was part of the leadership of the USSR but was then exiled from the country and stripped of his Soviet citizenship. The main role in this film, where the hero meets his death in far-off Mexico, was played by Richard Burton, and another significant role was taken by Alain Delon.
"World war two: when lions roared"
Another very important historical figure is Joseph Stalin, who was played by Michael Caine (winner of two Oscars, by the way) in the film World War II: When Lions Roared. The name is a reference to the “roaring lions” – Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin – whose “roars” shook the world during the Second World War.
British-born Bob Hoskins is a Golden Globe winner. In 1991 he played Lavrenty Beria in the film The Inner Circle. It’s about the difficult days of Stalinist repression, which led to the deaths of millions of people, and the “inner circle” of those who were close to Joseph Stalin. These include Marshal of the Soviet Union Lavrenty Beria, who time after time has to take difficult decisions.