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
In 1930, a group of three Russians - Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Alexandrov, and Eduard Tisse - began an ambitious film in Mexico. A year later the backers halted the project before filming was complete.
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
At the beginning of the color dancing sequence, the many dances jump and fall in front of the Tsar. At the end of this sequence, one of the falling dancers pushes the wig off the head of Vladimir, as he lays on the floor apparently in a drunken state. See more »
This first part of Eisenstein's filming of the life and times of "Ivan the Terrible" has lots of drama, very good characterizations, fascinating settings, and plenty of action. Nikolai Cherkasov is completely convincing in the lead role, and the rest of the cast complements him well (especially Serafima Birman as his crafty aunt). This period in history is quite interesting and significant in itself, and Eisenstein presents everything in a fashion that is thoughtful and also enjoyable to watch.
Ivan combined a remorseless personal ambition with a genuine desire to strengthen and protect Russia, while the boyars, who opposed him, acted from motives that were almost exclusively personal. Combined with the plans of Russia's neighbors, all of this makes for a complex and interesting series of events, and the movie does a good job of presenting both the events and the possibilities, both on the surface and behind the scenes. Not the least of the reasons why it works so well are the settings. They are always interesting, believable, and atmospheric - and the indoor settings are especially so.
Part One is praiseworthy both in its own right and as the foundation for the outstanding sequel. Eisenstein generally excelled at depicting important periods in his country's history, and his series on Ivan's critical reign demonstrates all of his many skills. His attention to detail (of which there are too many examples even to try to list) and his appreciation for the overall picture make this a memorable film of high quality.
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