A minor German princess with connections to Swedish royalty, the future Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia began as the handpicked bride of the future Czar. When he ascended the throne, Catherine plotted his overthrow, took power, and began to pull her country out of the dark ages. She led Russia for 30 years, creating an enviable dynasty build on cunning and ruthlessness, in addition to newfound notions of justice, progress, and a centralized government. Ahead of her time, Catherine the Great stands as a model for light in a time of great cultural and sociological darkness. In blending discussion of the facts by scholars--each presenting a particular slant on Catherine's life and conduct--with fictional recreations of pivotal events in her life, this film presents a well-rounded portrait of 18th Century Europe's most 'enlightened' despot.