In 16th-century Russia in the grip of chaos, Ivan the Terrible strongly believes he is vested with a holy mission. Believing he can understand and interpret the signs, he sees the Last ...
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In 16th-century Russia in the grip of chaos, Ivan the Terrible strongly believes he is vested with a holy mission. Believing he can understand and interpret the signs, he sees the Last Judgment approaching. He establishes absolute power, cruelly destroying anyone who gets in his way. During this reign of terror, Philip, the superior of the monastery on the Solovetsky Islands, a great scholar and Ivan's close friend, dares to oppose the sovereign's mystical tyranny. What follows is a clash between two completely opposite visions of the world, smashing morality and justice, God and men. A grand-scale film with excellent leading roles by Mamonov and Yankovsky. An allegory of Stalinist Russia.Written by
Warsaw Film Festival
On 32nd minute a herald mentioned in his announcement current year as "1566" (according to Julian Calendar), although Julian calendar was introduced in Russia only in 1700 by Peter the Great. Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1918 after the Revolution. See more »
An apocalyptic masterpiece in fulfillment of Eisenstein's greatest project
I agree completely with the author of "Sergei Eisenstein honored" in calling this film the third part of Eisenstein's intended trílogy of the most debatable of all Russian tzars. Eisenstein had planned a third film to his great "Ivan the Terrible" project but never came to fulfill it since already the second part was forbidden by Stalin, and Eisenstein died before Stalin. However, this film would have satisfied Eisenstein completely as a fulfillment of his last cinematic dreams.
Of course, it has flaws. Pyotr Mamonov is not quite convincing as the tzar and does not stand up to a comparison with the incomparable Nikolai Cherkasov as the leading actor in Eisenstein's masterpieces. While Eisenstein's films are monumentally theatrical with every scene a masterpiece of composition and every face unforgettably impressive in pictorial portraiture, Mamonov as the tzar is too much of a caricature and is overdoing it in a grotesque way that falls out of the personage that the tzar really was. This twisted interpretation of the life on the throne is worsened by the revolting presence of the fool, who pushes the exaggerations far over the top of any credibility.
All this grotesqueness, which really was part of Ivan's reign but only one side of it, is wonderfully balanced by Oleg Yankovsky as the metropolitan and childhood friend of Ivan, who the tzar desperately appeals to for friendship, which his ways make impossible. Here you have the full integrity of a real man who just can't compromise with his conscience and sense of right and wrong, while Ivan is way beyond any hope of insight in this matter. The metropolitan dominates the film, and the film is a masterpiece mainly because of him.
Of course, there is very much you miss of Ivan's other aspects as a tzar. Neither Eisenstein nor Lungin included the episode of the slaughter of his son Ivan, and concentrating exclusively on the personal relationship between the tzar and the metropolitan, the film feels more episodic like a rhapsody than like an accomplished epic. There is certainly room in the future for a part IV of the complex, gigantic and humanly unfathomable story of the most debatable of Russian tzars.
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