At the end of watching the Margot Fonteyn DVD Shakespeare’s lines ‘golden lads and lasses must as chimney sweepers come to dust’ flashed across my mind. Such beauty and grace ending up old and frail. She said something terribly sad towards the end of her career. ‘They’ve come to see a freak’. An old lady still dancing. She got it wrong. They came to see a legend.
Yesterday I watched another DVD, Catherine the Great. From an obscure German princess she transformed herself into the most powerful regent Russia ever had – another rags to riches story. I enjoyed the story but felt the actress playing Catherine was neither lusty nor forceful enough. Catherine did not die a pauper’s death. She was buried in the St Petersburg cathedral; not like Fonteyn in an obscure Panamanian graveyard.
Both women had unbelievable strong wills. Little else in common; except being human. With strong wills went strong passions. Both imposed their stamp upon their eras.
Catherine survived treachery and plots. She ruled Russia from 1762 till 1796. She befriended Diderot the French philosopher and tried to impose his ideas upon her people. She rebuilt much of St Petersburg. Her armies extended the Russian borders southwards, conquering the Ukraine and Crimea. She had many lovers. She also became a legend.