Heritage House Arts & Civic Center rounds out the first season of the International Film Series with the sixth of the seven collaborations between actress Marlene Dietrich and director Josef Von Sternberg, the Scarlet Empress. It will be shown Sunday, Dec. 10, at 6:30 p.m. Admission will be free.
Review for the Scarlet Empress:
A highly fictionalized biopic of the German-born Russian empress Catherine the Great, the screenplay of the Scarlet Empress is based on the ruler's own diary and relates her story via a bizarre visual extravaganza, combining as it does female sensuality and brave innuendo -- "as if Mel Brooks had collaborated with the Marquis de Sade," said critic Roger Ebert.
Considered a film firmly 30 years ahead of its time even now, the film was released in 1934 in a defiant affront to the mores of the time and in such a fashion as to not only turn traditional gender roles on their head, but to capitalize on the public impression of the historical Catherine as well as Dietrich's image as one of Hollywood's sexiest stars.
The result is a film which is what the director, Josef von Sternberg, refers to as "a relentless excursion in style," achieved with the help of stunning cinematography, sumptuous sets, and historically accurate costumes -- making it "the most imaginative film of the sound era prior to Citizen Kane," according to cult film historian Danny Peary.