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
His wife dead from poisoning and his chief warrior, Kurbsky, defected to the Poles, Ivan is lonely as he pursues a unified Russia with no foreign occupiers. Needing friendship, he brings to court Kolychev, now Philip the monk, and makes him metropolitan bishop of Moscow. Philip, however, takes his cues from the boyars and tries to bend Ivan to the will of the church. Ivan faces down Philip and lets loose his private force, the Oprichniks, on the boyars. Led by the Tsar's aunt, Euphrosyne, the boyers plot to assassinate Ivan and enthrone her son, Vladimir. At a banquet, Ivan mockingly crowns Vladimir and sends him in royal robes into the cathedral where the assassin awaits. Written by
While the first part of "Ivan the Terrible" is unique, stylized and powerful historical chronicle, second part is something more: poignant tragedy of authority. Since boyars poisoned Ivan's wife and his friends betrayed him, tsar remains in lonely. Oprichniki are only people he can trust. Ivan orders to kill some of boyars for instance, then Efrosinia Staricka (his aunt) sets plot against his life. One word gives atmosphere of this film: paranoia. Every character cares burden of fear
about his life, about his political business. Pervasive fear is
delivered to us with unearthly dance of shadows, dramatic Prokofiev's score, haunting acting, poetic dialogs, monumental decorations and costumes. Everything looks very artificial but, paradoxically, not false; this film works with peerless emotional strength and brings as much true about authority as Shespeare's best works, being compatible to Maciavlelian theory of authority. There are only few films in history of cinema that so heavily consider problems of power (I'd mention "The Godfather, Part II" and Kurosawa's "Kagemusha" and "Ran" beside "Boyars Plot"). Don't miss. And if you decide to watch this film, I recommend: take great Criterion DVD box set which contains also first part and "Alexander Nevsky", another Eisenstein's sound masterpiece.
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