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Per the Daily Mail, Angelina's production co. has apparently bought the rights to British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore’s acclaimed book Catherine The Great And Potemkin: The Imperial Love Affair. (No other outlet has the story and no copy of any press release is available online.)
The book was published in 2000 and drew on 5,000 previously unpublished love letters between the pair.
The report quotes Sebag Montefiore as saying: ‘I am thrilled that Angelina has optioned the book because it was my first book and it was very much a labour of love. Catherine is the ultimate feminist hero. I feel very safe with Angelina in charge of it. They were the great loves of each other’s lives and, in effect, they were one of the most successful political couples in the whole of history. By comparison, Antony and Cleopatra were a disaster whose relationship ended with failure and suicide.’
He added that Potemkin ‘was a wild character who ruled like a sultan. He travelled with gardens which were planted every night by thousands of serfs’.
Daily Mail also quotes Bea Hemming, editorial director of Weidenfeld & Nicolson which published Sebag Montefiore’s book: ‘We’re delighted at the news that this magnificent biography has been optioned. Simon always brings the drama and intensity of cinema to his writing, so it will be thrilling to see his work brought to life on screen.’
Jolie’s production company reportedly paid a ‘high five-figure sum’ for the rights.
Many years ago, Randall Wallace (Braveheart) had wanted Jolie for the role of Catherine the Great in the film adaptation of his novel Love and Honor. It is unclear if Jolie will take on the title role in this new production or if she will remain behind the camera as producer or director.
Daily Mail notes that it is "also unclear whether this adaptation would be for TV or film. If Jolie does take on the role, she will be following in the footsteps of Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who have all played the Empress in the past."
ReviewsOne of the great love stories of history in a league with Napoleon and Josephine and Antony and Cleopatra ... Excellent, with dazzling mastery of detail and literary flair -- Economist
A rather wonderful book ... -- Mick Jagger Sunday Times
If you want a good racy historical read, CATHERINE THE GREAT & POTEMKIN certainly provides it! Book of the Year -- Antonia Fraser
It is a wonderful story, and Simon Sebag Montefiore tells it with joyful verve. He evidently warms to Potemkin's overblown personality and relishes the adventurers who swarmed around him. He has a firm grasp of the politics at the Russian court and of the diplomatic context, which is not easy, since the centre of gravity of this story shifts between St Petersburg, Vienna, Berlin and Istanbul. He is very good on the relationship between Potemkin and Catherine. His explanation of the day-to-day mechanics of the unusual menage is light-handed, movingly told and psychologically credible -- Adam Zamoyski The Times
This well researched and highly ambitious biography has succeeded triumphantly in re-creating the life of an extraordinary man of mixed moods... Sebag Montefiore also provides a remarkably good panorama of the period -- Antony Beevor Sunday Times
Clearly what fascinates Sebag Montefiore is the man himself - his personality, his achievements, his lifelong relationship with his sovereign/lover - and that fascination shines through every page of this book. Although more than 500 pages long, it could easily have been double the length, so enjoyable is it to read -- Anne Applebaum Sunday Telegraph
With great industry and huge enthusiasm he has combed the archives to give us a detailed account of a gigantic but, until now, almost forgotten figure. The writing is fluent, the sympathy obvious -- Nigel Jones Sunday Express
This exhaustive and beautifully-written biography... Montefiore vividly brings to life his supporting cast of envious conspirators, aristocratic mistresses, dandies, diplomats and adventurers -- Christopher Hudson Daily Mail
The contradictions in Potemkin's character are beautifully brought out in this magnificent biography -- Petronella Wyatt Independent
Montefiore's reputation so far has been for lively journalism and a couple of novels. With this lavish biography he has announced himself as a historian who deserves to be taken seriously -- Victor Sebestyen Evening Standard
This splendid biography, as sprawling, magnificent and exotic as its subject, provides for the first time in English a fully researched, accurate and immensely readable history of this extraordinary man -- Nikolai Tolstoy Literary Review
Magnificent ... Montefiore's passionate and committed revisionism on behalf of his hero is just one of a host of excellent things about this book. Massively researched in Russian archives, it is a work of fine scholarship ... This is a superb biography and it is hard to see how it can ever be superseded -- Frank McLynn Financial Times
Exhilarating ... In describing Potemkin's career, Sebag Montefiore succeeds admirably in capturing its scale and ambition -- Stella Tillyard Mail on Sunday
This gripping and richly researched biography ... CATHERINE THE GREAT & POTEMKIN makes it easy to see why novelists are often seduced away from fiction to write biography - where, just sometimes, implausible reality exceeds plausible fantasy many times over -- Peter Nasmyth TLS
An example of how to make a page-turner out of the most profound scholarship -- New Statesman
Impeccably researched, beautifully written and handsomely presented, it takes us at an unslackening pace through the colourful life of one of the most legendary of all Russians, a war hero, consummate politician, visionary and lover of Catherine the Great -- Simon Heffer Daily Mail
A triumph of research and a joy to read -- Antony Beevor Books of the Year, Independent Weekend Review
This book is a conspicuous achievement. The author's researches have been extensive and his command of his subject exemplary. His writing has the quality of a vivid soap-opera of the highest class, more than equal to his subject. He brings out Potemkin's personality perfectly... Potemkin is depicted in this work as the giant he undoubtedly was, and the biography will secure him a new audience, and a renewed place in history Country Life POTEMKIN opened up a whole world ... to me. Book of the year -- Alain de Botton Independent
This irresistible biography is history from above. To write this stupendous, engaging tour de force, the first biography of Potemkin in any language since 1891, Montefiore has devoted many hours in the archives of Moscow and Petersburg and covered thousands of miles of the former Russian empire ... -- Philip Mansel Spectator