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
Ivan the Terrible marks the final stages of the cinema's greatest creative genius: SERGI EISENSTEIN. It is the work of a director, a supreme artist who never ceased in probing new boundires, striking out uncharted paths, and searching the outer limits of his art. In the work, Eisenstein has gone eons beyond his earlier methods of film creation and for the first time approaches a true synthesis of dance, music, poetry, painting, photography, architecture, and all other forms of aesthetic communication.
The trials and tribulations surrounding the production and distribution of Ivan have become legendary in there own right. The film drew sharp criticism from Stalin and Eisenstein was forced to publicly announce his ''formalist errors.'' Subsequently, the film was banned in Russia until 1958 and Eisenstein was ostracized for what many saw as a film full of ''excess.'' It took many years before the world would come to realize it is nothing short of his greatest masterpiece.
A true cinematic realization of the ever elusive ''total work of art.'' A concept that originated with the Ancient Greeks and was further formulated by Richard Wagner in his epic masterwork, ''THE RING CYCLE.'' The Gestanmueack or ''intragel work of art'' as Wagner called it was in essence the synthesizing of every artistic medium into a single polyphonic experience. In the 20th century Eisenstein saw Wagner's music dramas as predecessors of cinema; a cinema that synthesized elements of all of mankind's arts into a single majestic, visceral and emotional experience which could transform and transfix the spectator. Together with the world renowned composer, master Sergei Prokofiev, and his lifelong cinematographer Eduard Tisse, Eisenstein labored for years researching and planning out every camera angle, lighting scheme, musical note, costume, color palette, gesture, and perspective; until every scene in Ivan becomes an intricate and complex world of its own. A world where actors twist and bend their forms to the limits of the plastic frame, shadows conceal and light reveals, the musical notes flow with the rhythm and tempo of the visual image and in the famous banquet scene, colors are used by Eisenstein to delve into the psychological states of the character's mind and state of being. It becomes a universe composed so precisely and diligently that every frame is infused with hidden metaphorical and symbolic meanings, and serves to create the epitome of cinematic achievement.
Tragically, like Schubert's great ''Unfinished Symphony'' or the Venus di Milo, Eisenstein passed away before completing the final part of his epic masterwork. What remains of Ivan the Terrible will live forever as a testament not only to the genius of Sergei Eisenstein but also to his unparalleled contribution to the world culture of the 20th century.
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