The venerated filmmaker Eisenstein is comparable in talent, insight and wisdom, with the likes of Shakespeare or Beethoven; there are few - if any - directors who can be elevated to such ... See full summary »
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The ocean contains the history of all humanity. The sea holds all the voices of the earth and those that come from outer space. Water receives impetus from the stars and transmits it to ... See full summary »
A revisionist biopic on Charles Darwin, illustrated via 18 tableaux covering details from Darwin's birth, his defining voyage on the HMS Beagle, the publication of his seminal Theory of ... See full summary »
Barbara M. Messner,
The venerated filmmaker Eisenstein is comparable in talent, insight and wisdom, with the likes of Shakespeare or Beethoven; there are few - if any - directors who can be elevated to such heights. On the back of his revolutionary film Battleship Potemkin, he was celebrated around the world, and invited to the US. Ultimately rejected by Hollywood and maliciously maligned by conservative Americans, Eisenstein traveled to Mexico in 1931 to consider a film privately funded by American pro-Communist sympathizers, headed by the American writer Upton Sinclair. Eisenstein's sensual Mexican experience appears to have been pivotal in his life and film career - a significant hinge between the early successes of Strike, Battleship Potemkin, and October, which made him a world-renowned figure, and his hesitant later career with Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible and The Boyar's Plot. Written by
Ordinarily I can take Peter Greenaway or leave him alone -- chiefly the latter. But he really scores this time with a story that has longed to be told.
As is known Sergei Eisenstein hoped to work in Hollywood in the early thirties just as sound came in. But thanks to aright-wing campaign (plus its own lack of imagination) Paramount Pictures was scared off from making films of with of the scripts the great Russian director had written : an adaptation of Dreiser's "An American Tragedy" and an original historical drama "Sutter's Gold." The novelist Upton Sinclair stepped in and elected to back a film Eisenstein wanted to make about Mexico. But he knew nothing about film production and less about Eisenstein's highly improvisatory working methods. Under-budgeted and best by problems the shoot was brought to a halt when Sinclair's brother-in-law, Hunter Kimbrough discovered SME was having too much fun south of the border. Moreover he got a gander at the great man's cache of frankly gay pornographic drawings. Eisenstein not only never got to edit "Que Viva Mexico" -- he never even saw the rushes. He returned to Russia where he made "Alexander Nevsky" and "Ivam the Terrible" Sinclair meanwhile had the "Que Viva Mexico" footage sliced and diced into travelogues.
This is the backdrop of what Greenaway has done which s to present Eisenstein's Mexican sojourn as a sexual awakening. He falls madly in love (and lust) with a handsome guide. Greenaway brings the full bore of his visual imagination to telling this tale with multiple images and lighting the likes of which hasn't been seen since Sternberg. Elmer Back is superb as SME and Luis Alberti is equally great as his love interest. Not to be missed.
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