Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The reputation of Soviet filmmaker Vladimir Petrov rests largely on a group of multipart films, honoring Russian heroes past and present. The first of these mammoth historical dramas was the two-part Peter the First, which took Petrov two years to complete. The second half of this auspicious undertaking was released in the US under the title Conquests of Peter the Great. Nikolai Simonov stars as Peter, with Alia Tarasova as Catherine I. The film gets off to a rousing start as Peter's troops triumph over their Swedish foes at the battle of Poltava, then segues into a second victory at sea over those indefatigable Swedes. Though undermined by the treachery of his weakling son Alexei (Nikolai Cherkassov), Czar Peter brings order out of the chaos, opening Russia to fair and equitable trade with other nations (and incidentally destroying those who don't conform with his special brand of diplomacy). Criticized by some for his obsession with "pretty" pictorial compositions, director Petrov nonetheless paints a vivid and reasonably accurate portrait of 17th century Russia.
aristocracy, Czar, history, Russia