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
Archive footage from Potemkin (1925), with English dialogue dubbed in by American actors, is combined with new footage to tie together the brave stand of Odessa Russian guerrilla bands of ... See full summary »
Sergei M. Eisenstein
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
I've seen this a number of times now so it's difficult for me to remember having trouble getting into the stylised form of acting and by 1944 dated expressionistic cinematography that other viewers might have. First time of watching it was on UK TV over 20 years ago with Part 2 and a documentary called Part 3 containing the remaining extant scenes, and I loved it. I'm dead against arty farty pretentious movies and am always aware that being obscure does not automatically make a film a classic, but this really is a classic of its kind. It was Eisenstein's best work (imho) a rallying call to all of the disparate inhabitants of Mother Russia to work and fight together, which was ordered by Stalin and who was pleased with the similarities I bet he was on tenterhooks waiting for Ivan to go insane though.
Ivan is crowned Tsar of all the Russias and proceeds to drag the country into the 16th century, disposing of external enemies in the form of Tartars, starting a long war against Livonia and limiting the influence of the antagonistic aristocracy, the boyars. The acting is intensely melodramatic, with endless sinister sidelong glances taken from acute camera angles and Ivan's pointy beard shown to good advantage, which to people not paying much attention can probably be mirth-inducing. But this was pulse-quickening propaganda for the new Russian working class to comprehend, not Artheads decades later - Eisenstein did it so memorably that like Potemkin it's still spellbinding today. Otoh he borrowed extensively from Snow White too for some of most incredible shadowy images in here, and his whole technique hadn't moved on from silent film. The use of the b&w nitrate film, costumes, sets and angular ugly faces are wondrous to behold and Prokofiev's stirring music glues it all together triumphantly.
All in all, a knockout film with faults but which still defies and will survive all criticism.
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