A RUSSIAN BINGE-WORTHY TV SERIES ON AMAZON PRIME
For those who grew up with television, the present Golden Age is a miracle! Not only the variety and depth of American television, but series and shows from all over the world - Australia, Sweden, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy and now - Russia!
Sophia is an eight part series about Sofia Paleologa, niece of Constantine IX, last Byzantine emperor, wife of Ivan III of Russia.
Don't worry - it doesn't matter. All you need to know is that an early Russian czar (late 1400s) decides to marry a young woman who is living in Rome under the Pope's protection and who is an heir to the throne of Byzantium (present day Turkey).
It's a great story about love and friendship and betrayal and greed and religion. The acting is excellent, the story compelling. I would mention all of the actors and creative personnel but you wouldn't know them.
What is important is that, like other series from other countries, this series tells us about the Russian character and history. Religion is as important to these characters as it is to present day evangelicals. The Czar is an absolute ruler whose word is law. He can have a traitor beheaded or, as happens in one episode when the traitor decides to make an anti-Czar speech as he is about to be beheaded, simply raise his hand and hold up four fingers - meaning that the sentence has been changed from beheading to dismemberment, four fingers corresponding to the four limbs that are to be cut off before beheading. This is one tough country.
I believe that a country's popular culture, its TV, movies and songs, tell us a great deal about the people of a country. And so does its idea of its past. Here, in the USA, we worship the men (very few women) who have created the American character - self-made, a personal code, a belief in fair play and a dream of equality (it's the dream that we worship so there is no need to ensure its fulfillment). The great movies about our history, from the John Ford westerns to the many Civil War epics, rarely told how things really were. As one of Ford's characters says, "When the legend becomes a fact, print the legend." And so we have.
And I am certain, so have the creators of Sophia.
But no matter - Sophia is one hell of a great story, well told and well acted. Give it a try - it's binge-worthy
1 SEASON, 8 EPISODES
NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON PRIME.