During his silent film career in Germany, Emil Jannings starred in a number of historical dramas; here he plays the powerful Russian emperor. Directed by Dmitri Buchowetzki, this picture should have been as impressive as its title character; instead it came off as technically well done but emotionally cold. When Peter (Jannings) becomes Russia's czar, he uses his extensive knowledge of shipbuilding to develop the navy and launch a war with Sweden. After emerging victorious at the battle of Poltava, Peter becomes determined to make his country even more powerful. Hampering his hopes is his weakling son, Alexis (Walter Janssen), who does not seem destined to follow in his footsteps. Then, after taking Catherine, a refugee girl (Dagny Servaes), as his bride and empress, Peter alienates the church and the nobles. A conspiracy against him makes Peter realize how hated he is amongst his countrymen, and the death of Alexis, by Peter's own hand, only serves to hasten the emperor's own demise.
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