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
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
This film was withheld by Soviet authorities by order of Joseph Stalin, since this film, dealing with Ivan's slide into madness and the tyranny of the Oprichnina, did not properly mythologize Ivan IV Grozny to Stalin's satisfaction. It was not finally released until 10 years after the deaths of director Sergei M. Eisenstein and Stalin. See more »
This space can't afford me the kind of gargantuan platform needed to speak on Eisenstein's masterwork (both parts) with the sort of attention to detail and passion that the director brings to the story of the Russian tsar. This is the rarest of films that stands as a testament to how cinema can extend beyond an entertainment and exist as a singular work of art and a document that works to expand our knowledge of the human condition. Every frame is rich, every scene speaks far more than any written line or action. The production is a phenomenal achievement in the absolute totality of the collaborative effort; the actors, the set, the cinematography, the soundtrack - every facet of the film-making process has worked to create a seamless connection. While the approach of the actors, the lighting and the choices of camera angles frustrate our standard ideas of what a movie should look and feel like, there is a design here; it is precise and it is brilliant. This is a film for those viewers who, as Eisenstein famously said, read (not just watched) the images on the screen. One of the two or three true masterworks in the history of movies.
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