The Great is a historical comedy-drama starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult. This series is about Catherine the Great battling to become the leader of Russia while struggling with her personal life. This series left fans wondering how much of The Great is accurate. If you are wondering the same, read further to find out!
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Is The Great Based On True Story?
The Great was described as “occasionally a true story.”The series was inspired by real people like Catherine and her husband, Peter III. Even though the major plot of The Great is pretty accurate, most of the additional characters like Marial were completely fictional.
The show’s producer, Marian Macgowan, stated, “We tend to research around specific events we know occurred and will use or not use them based on how they’ll help advance the characters or theme.”
She also explained, “In the writers’ room for both seasons, we did hire a historian, but as much as anything, the history we were interested in was what else was happening in the world at the time—what ideas or characters would she have come across? And if we adhered to the broad strokes that she took power and then struggled, we felt fine. We could research specific events we know occurred and use or not use them based on how they’ll help advance the characters or theme.”
Here’s a detailed explanation of the accuracy of the series
Catherine the great was a real person who ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796. It was quite easy for the crew to gather information and details about the life of Catherine since she was one of the most famous rulers in Russian history.
The character details of Catherine depicted in the show were pretty accurate. Some of her interests shown in the series were also very true. Catherine, in real life, was also extremely passionate about French philosophy and women’s education, as portrayed in the show.
McNamara explained in an interview about the accuracy of the portrayal of Catherine in the series, “There were certain things that were essential to telling her story, and a lot otherwise that we would make up.”
In the show The Great, Peter’s character was also based on Peter III in real life. However, the show portrayed Peter as a devotee of Russia. But, in real life, Peter hated Russia and was a devotee of Germany instead.
The show exaggerated some of its character traits of Peter for humor.
Peter was introduced to the audience as the son of Peter the Great, but he was the grandson of Peter the Great in real life.
In the show, Peter was already Russia’s emperor before meeting Catherine. But in real life, he became the emperor only after 17 years of marriage to Catherine. He spent a short six months as Tsar before Catherine’s successful coup forced him to surrender, and he died in prison. There are a lot of conspiracy theories about his death.
There were also a lot of historical records about Peter’s bad temper. Catherine also left many memoirs behind in which she described her husband as an idiot and a drunkard.
Marriage Of Catherine And Peter
The marriage shown in the series was quite accurate to what happened in real life. In the series. It is mentioned in history that Catherine and Peter were second cousins. They were married when Catherine was 16 and Peter was 17.
Even though various details about their marriage shown in the series were exaggerated and fictional, it was true that both Catherine and Peter had many affairs while still being married to each other, as shown in the series.
It was also true that Catherine led a conspiracy to overthrow Peter, the main storyline of The Great series.
Leo Vronsky was a character shown in the series as Catherine’s lover. However, his character was completely fictional.
Catherine indeed had several lovers after getting married to Peter in real life. It is said that Sergei Saltykov inspired Leo’s character in real life.
Count Orlo is a character that was accurately based on a real-life person named Count Grigory Orlov. Even though the show portrayed Orlov as a supporting member to dethrone Peter, he was a leading member of that plan.
Orlov’s character was a scholar older than Catherine in the series. Still, he was a military man and quite younger than Catherine in real life.
The show portrayed a platonic relationship between Catherine and Orlov. But it is stated in history that Catherine and Orlov had a romantic relationship in real life. There are various conspiracy theories about Orlov being the father of one of his sons, Catherine.
In real life, there are various personal papers written by Catherine describing her grief when Orlov died in 1783.
In season 2, it is shown that Catherine contributes her ideas to put rollers on the roller coasters. This was also one of the scenes completely inspired by real-life events.
In real life, ice slides have been used in Russia for hundreds of years, and Catherine the Great, worked with builders to design the first roller coaster and installed it at her summer palace.
In one episode of The Great, there is an outbreak of smallpox. This scene was inspired by a real event that happened during the time of Catherine.
In the series, Catherine infects herself with smallpox in front of the Russian court after learning about immunization through inoculation. In real life, Catherine performs inoculations on herself and her son, Paul.
It is shown in the series that Catherine was extremely passionate about women’s education. This was also based on real-life events. . In 1764, she issued a decree establishing the Smolny Institute for daughters of the nobility in Saint Petersburg, Russia’s first educational institution for women. She also pioneered an inoculation program across Russia.
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