An elegantly produced documentary divided into eight parts and running nearly seven hours in length, The Romanovs beautifully encapsulates the epic story of the Russian Dynasty over the course of over three hundred years.
The first episode opens in 1613 with the crowing of Michael Fyodorovich Romanov as tsar of Russia, setting in motion the origins of the Romanov Dynasty. Co-ruling beside his father for a period of time, he exceeded expectations by restoring peace to a previously perilous relationship with both Sweden and Poland.
Episode 2 captures the reign of Tsarevna (Princess) Sophia Alekseyevna, the first female ruler of Russia, who displayed as much governing savvy and cruel tactics as her male counterparts.
Few tsars loom larger in the perception of the masses than Peter the Great, and he's the subject of the third episode in the series. Although he had tremendous foresight in his attempts to modernize Russia and enact effective foreign policies, Peter neglected to name an heir before his death in 1725. This ushers in the start of episode 4, which details the chaos that ensued amongst those with a thirst for power.
Catherine the Great dominates the fifth episode. An unusually enlightened mind, enraptured by the poetry and philosophy of the time, she enjoyed tremendous public adoration throughout her eventful reign of over three decades.
Episode six details the ascension of Catherine's son Paul following her death in 1796. Reigning only for five short years, Paul was then succeeded by his own son, Alexander, who reigned during the tumultuous period of the Napoleonic Wars.
The seventh segment chronicles the rule of both Nicolas I and his son Alexander II, as well as the Emancipation Reform of 1861, which succeeded in abolishing serfdom. The effects of this revolutionary act - which serves as the basis for the concluding episode - set the stage for the end of the Romanov Dynasty in the early decades of the 20th century.
Viewers will marvel at the scope and depth of this hugely ambitious series, and the Herculean task undertaken by its director. Immaculately researched and brought to life with stunning production values, The Romanovs is a vivid reconstruction of Russian history that's well worth savoring.
Directed by: Maxim Bespaly