Angelina Jolie to make a biopic on Catherine the Great

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Jul 08, 2015 17:08 IST
Angelina Jolie (left) is planning to make a biopic on Russian ruler of 18th century, Catherine the Great. (AP photo)

Now we are on to another biopic, this time by the ravishing Hollywood actor-director-producer Angelina Jolie. She would fictionally document the life of Catherine the Great, the celebrated queen who reigned over Russia for the greater part of the second half of the 18th century.

Jolie's film will be based on a book, Catherine the Great and Potemkin: The Imperial Love Affair, written by Simon Sebag Montefiore and brought out in 2000.

Born in Prussia as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, Catherine was crowned in 1762 soon after a coup against her husband, Peter III. She was the country's longest ruling empress. She died in 1796, but not before a roaring affair with one of her court favourites, Potemkin.

In 1774, he became Catherine's lover, and played a significant role in Russia's territorial ambitions, and these included a major war against the Ottoman Empire and the conquest of the Crimean Peninsula.

Potemkin set up fake villages to impress visiting dignitaries, and also the battleship that was linked to his name. There was a famous mutiny on board this vessel in 1905.

In 1925, Sergey Eisenstein made his silent masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin, as a tribute to early Russian revolutionaries. They rebelled when they were served rotten meat, and strove to begin a war in Odessa. However, this was stopped, but the ambers of Russian Revolution had been fanned, a revolt that finally led to the rise of Communism.

A still from Unbroken.

It is not clear whether Jolie would transform into Catherine, a role that could be wonderfully ideal for her. But in recent years, she has been more enamoured of the megaphone than greasepaint. She is now helming her third movie, By the Sea, where she has, though, taken on an acting role opposite her husband, Brad Pitt.

Jolie's earlier directorial ventures, Unbroken and In the Land of Blood and Honey, were critically acclaimed.

While Unbroken is a story of courage and resilience revolving around an American Olympian and athlete, Louis Zamperini, who survived at sea for 47 days after his bomber had been shot down and who subsequently spent a long time in prisoner of war camps, In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011) is a romantic drama set against the Bosnian War.

It is obvious that Jolie is fascinated by history and the turmoil in the lives of men and women caused by war and other forms of conflict. The film on Catherine purports to be a study of royal intrigues, and how her passionate relationship with Potemkin influenced State policies, including the decisions to go to war.

Angelina Jolie with daughters Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt (L) and Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt (R) at Nickelodeon's 28th Annual Kids' Choice Awards.

Both Unbroken and and In the Land of Blood and Honey unfold against bloody battles, and are absorbing accounts -- although in fictionalised forms -- of how they guide and determine human behaviour.

It would be sad if Jolie were to hang up her acting boots, the fantastic performer that she is. Changeling, Salt, The Tourist, Mr and Mrs Smith and A Mighty Heart are some of the movies where she excelled as an actor.

Known to be a rebel in her real life, Angelina had a live-in boyfriend when she was 14, and -- hear this -- they stayed in the same house as her mother! A strange mix of revolt and caution saw her undergoing a double mastectomy to prevent cancer. She also had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed recently.

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