(Last updated on 9 November 2020)

Scene from the movie The Great © Hulu.

The satirical drama series The Great tells the (sometimes very true) story of a German princess planning a coup against her own husband, a boring and useless Russian emperor, with the most generous side of the (sometimes rather dark) English humour.

making Russia a great nation…

At the beginning of the series we learn that the big story is sometimes based on real facts…

However, the series is based on the real story of Empress Catherine II in the 18th century. Century, whose name was Catherine the Great. In real life, Catherine II was born on the second day of her reign. She was born in May 1729 as Sophia Ankhalt-Zerbstskaya and married in 1745 at the age of 16 to the Crown Prince of Russia.

When Catherine first met Peter… Hulu

In this series, however, Peter is already emperor when Sophie (Catherine) comes to court, while the real Peter only became emperor of Russia in 1762.

Moreover, the reign of the real Peter III lasted only six months before the real Catherine managed to overthrow him by a coup (or in other words an uprising) and became the only empress of Russia after her mysterious death.

Peter and Katharina in the big one. Hulu

But, as in the series, the real Catherine (played by the American actress El Fanning) was extremely unhappy with her arranged marriage to the current Russian emperor, her husband Peter III (who played the English actor Nicholas Hult).

She will soon learn that at the court of Peter III, if all goes well, she must use the word Uza! and that it is advisable to break the glass into pieces. But, uh… That’s all Katherine and Peter have in common…

So Catherine, like you, is beginning to conspire and seek support for her cause to get rid of her useless Imperial husband and become the sole ruler of Russia ……..

Counterfeit Industry Russia….

Although the film The Great was shot in St. Petersburg and its suburbs, it was not shot in Russia. Instead, the film crew went to Italy and England.

A scene from the big one. Hulu

The Royal Palace of Caserta, located about 30 kilometers from the city of Naples in southern Italy, has become the most important film location in Italy. The King of Naples originally built this palace to compete with the Super Palace of Versailles in France.

Here are many pictures of the outside of the Peter and Paul Palace and the Catherina Palace in St. Petersburg, as well as pictures of the inside of the majestic staircase.

A scene from the big one. Hulu

The main film is set in England, at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, about an hour from London. Every time the characters of The Great walk through a long corridor, it’s a long gallery of Hatfield House.

Hatfield House is a popular place to make movies, and you may have seen it in other TV and film productions such as The King’s Speech (2010), the Netflix series The Crown (2016- ) or The Favorite drama period (2018), on which I wrote a separate blog post.

To find out more about the location of Hatfield House, check out my film review in Favorites (2018).

The other locations in England for The Great are Chateau Hever and St. John’s, Newfoundland. St. Claire’s in Kent, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, Ham House in Richmond in Surrey and Howard Castle in York in North Yorkshire.

Read more about the locations of the film The Great – this is a special report of the shooting locations.

A scene from the big one. Hulu

Call to Real Russia

In real life, Ekaterina and Peter lived, among others, in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Today this old palace is known as the Hermitage.

Thanks to its extensive collection of works of art by the true Catherine, the Hermitage is now known as the second largest museum in the world, immediately after the Louvre in Paris.

If you ever come to St. Petersburg, you should plan a visit to the Hermitage. It’s a duty and you won’t be disappointed.

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Sonia Irani / FilmFanReisen.de

In the same way you can visit the impressive Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, which is located near St. Petersburg, but easily accessible by tourist bus.

Catherine’s Palace near St. Petersburg. Sonia Irani / FilmFanReisen.de

Catherine’s Palace is not named after Catherine the Great, but after Catherine I (Peter the Great’s wife). Contrary to what is said in this series, Peter III was in fact a grandson of Peter I, not his son.

Today Catherine’s palace is not only beautiful on the outside, but the tons of gold inside will undoubtedly impress you. It is not surprising that the interior of Catherine’s palace was also used as a backdrop for the BBC War and Peace series (2016).

At Catherine’s Palace. Sonia Irani / FilmFanReisen.de

For more information about visiting St. Petersburg, please read my travel notes.

Short guide to St. Petersburg, Russia

и

10 cases in St. Petersburg, Russia

Final set:

One of the things I found particularly interesting was that some of the court’s greatest nobles were black. In the 18th century. That would have been completely unrealistic in the 21st century. However, I have noticed that this has happened in very recent historical productions, such as the feature film Maria Queen of Scotland (2018) or the Spanish princess series (2019). That’s why I think that casting black actors and actresses should be a sign of modern diversity and inclusion, and that’s certainly a good sign!

Some of the nobles of the Russian court of Veliky. Hulu

Moreover, I personally had the feeling that the Great had found an excellent approach to tell a historical story with great British humour, in a free and humorous way.

Thanks in part to the excellent performance of the actors and actresses, the big season was less dry than in the usual era of drama, and overall it was a very spectacular first season with 10 episodes.

Despite the fact that the series started with many highlights, I found the pace in the middle part a bit low. In the end the first season ended with a pretty big cliffhanger.

We know from real history that historic Catherine finally managed to overthrow her husband and continued to rule as the only empress in Russia. However, because the show took a lot of freedom and some things changed from the real story, you never know what to expect from the show. There may be other unexpected twists and turns…

Also, given that the real Katharina lived with Peter for 17 years before he managed to overthrow him, I think there is still room for more, at least for the second season of the greats.

All in all, it’s a great job! Hey, hey, hey, hey!

**** 4 or 5 stars

El Fanning in the big one. Hulu

Where should I look?

Originally the big one was produced by the Hulu network. I saw it on STARS.

Are you planning a trip to Russia?

Read my travel notes about my trip to St. Petersburg – the real old house of Catherine and Peter:

Short guide to St. Petersburg, Russia

и

10 cases in St. Petersburg, Russia

catherine the great comedy,the great huzzah

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