In documentary style, events in Petrograd are re-enacted from the end of the monarchy in February of 1917 to the end of the provisional government and the decrees of peace and of land in ... See full summary »
Sergei M. Eisenstein
Taiwanese School: The Experiment of Sergei Eisenstein's Montage Theory is a film featuring Sergei Eisenstein's montage art and revolutionary spirit, 'unification of society' as its theme. ... See full summary »
In 1547, Ivan IV (1530-1584), archduke of Moscow, crowns himself Tsar of Russia and sets about reclaiming lost Russian territory. In scenes of his coronation, his wedding to Anastasia, his campaign against the Tartars in Kazan, his illness when all think he will die, recovery, campaigns in the Baltic and Crimea, self-imposed exile in Alexandrov, and the petition of Muscovites that he return, his enemies among the boyars threaten his success. Chief among them are his aunt, who wants to advance the fortunes of her son, a simpleton, and Kurbsky, a warrior prince who wants both power and the hand of Anastasia. Ivan deftly plays to the people to consolidate his power. Written by
On a backdrop of intrigue, murder and betrayal, Prince Ivan conquers enemies and becomes the first Czar of all Russia, at the cost of his own soul.
Eisenstein's name and reputation loom over film history in such a forbidding way that you would be forgiven for deeming his work impenetrable by modern standards, yet while his silent epics are so seminal as to be hard to evaluate objectively, his late talking films can be hugely rewarding viewing, even to more casual film-goers. As a summation of his artistic evolution and scholarship, they are no less treasurable or significant than Battleship Potemkin, yet they have a more compelling story to tell.
Ivan The Terrible was to be a trilogy, of which only parts 1 and 2 were completed before their creator fell into disfavor with Stalin. Yet parts 1 and 2 are rich enough that together they form a perfect story ending on a chilling note. On to part 1 then...
Part 1 tells the story of Prince Ivan from young hopeful to warlord and recluse, before he truly accepts his calling. It is an incredibly romanticized tale, and formally, a relic of a time long gone, one that perhaps only ever existed in Eisenstein's mind. His was a unique visual sensibility and the Ivan films are full of layered, meticulously composed and designed shots: characters scurry like rodents through claustrophobic tunnels, the look is at times so expressionistic as to evoke where The Cabinet of Dr Caligari might have evolved. It is both familiar and horribly alien, like the nightmare it later confirms itself as in part 2.
Given the conflicting emotions evoked - heroism with oppression, epic scale but suffocating formalism - you would do well to brace yourself through this one and remember that only once you've seen both parts will it all make terrible sense. Only then will you appreciate the unique genius at work here.
One cannot distinguish between the two Ivans for one cannot exist without the other, and together, they form one of the best films ever made.
21 of 30 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?