Friday, August 27, 2010

Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible, Pts. 1+2, 1944+1945 (1958)
Dir: Sergei Eisenstein

I had this whole spiel about these two films that I was going to write, but the drunk brigade rolled through my house last night and they were in no mood for my thoughts on Russian montage. These two films (out of a planned trilogy, but Eisenstein died before he finished) are without a doubt the culmination of a lifetime of thought on film for Eisenstein, and his being let loose from the restriction of propaganda (however so marginally) is a God-send (though it is the reason why Pt. 2 wasn't released until 1958). The way the films are constructed is absolutely genius, where you get a sense of beauty that emerges from the setting, the unbelievable close-ups and Sergei Prokofiev's musical score. Watch how every character is framed and presented. There is a specific representation being pushed. The only problem is that all the performances are so theatrical and over-the-top it's pretty much off-putting, at least to me. Stream these on Netflix. They are Russia's Citizen Kane (1941).

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