17 March 2019 | dbdumonteil
And the river opens for the righteous...
It's 1801,folks, and that wicked czar Paul the First is making it rough all over.
Harry Baur was one of the greatest French actors of the thirties,and even when the screenplay takes a lot of liberties (an euphemism) with history , it's a pleasure to watch him .It was not the first time he had tackled a Russian character : a couple of years before,he had portrayed Rasputin,in "La Tragédie Impériale" (the name of the assassin was not historically accurate ,but the movie holds up quite well today)
"Le Patriote " is a horse of a different color,as far as history is concerned : the czar is an infantile tyrant ,probably to justify his assassination and the title : this patriot is count Pahlen (Pierre Renoir),one of the plotters who tells his naive master he is part of the conspiracy just to thwart their ominous plans (historically accurate) ,and commits suicide once his duty is done (false,he died years after).The czarevitch (Gerard Landry) knew everything about the plot,but he thought his authoritarian father's life would be spared ;on the other hand, his love affair with Nadia (Josette Day) is pure fiction and seems inspired by Rudolf Von Hapsburg and Mary Vetsera :after his father's death,he became Alexander the First and married a German princess.
Paul the First's reign was not thoroughly negative : he notably made the living conditions of serfdom less harsh ; but he did not trust the nobles and it may explain his tragic fate,although the notorious "patriot" of the movie is seen in a much less flattering light by historians.
With his follow -up ,"Katia" ,starring Danielle Darrieux ,Maurice Tourneur would carry on with Russian history (or its footnotes).