From Criterion Collection:
Eisenstein drew on history, Russian folk narratives, and the techniques of Walt Disney to create this broadly painted epic of Russian resilience. This story of Teutonic knights vanquished by Prince Alexander Nevsky’s tactical brilliance resonated deeply with a Soviet Union concerned with the rise of Nazi Germany. Widely imitated—most notably by Laurence Olivier’s Battle of Agincourt re-creation for Henry V —the Battle on the Ice scene remains one of the most famous audio-visual experiments in film history, perfectly blending action with the rousing score of Sergei Prokofiev. Continue reading
Da zdravstvuyet Meksika! AKA ¡Que viva Mexico!
Having revolutionized film editing through such masterworks of montage as Potemkin and Strike, Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein emigrated west in hopes of testing the capabilities of the American film industry. Quickly ostracized from Hollywood, Eisenstein, Grigory Alexandrov and photographer Eduard Tisse (at the urging of author Upton Sinclair) wandered south of the border where they began filming a highly stylized documentary on the people and volatile social climate of Mexico. Unfortunately, a lack of funds prohibited the film’s completion and the famed director was unable to edit the film. In 1979, by referring to Eisenstein’s extensive notes and sketches, Alexandrov assembled the most definitive version of the film; as close to Eisenstein’s vision as one is ever likely to see. Continue reading
The great Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein, whose Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky, and Ivan the Terrible stand as masterpieces of world cinema, is the subject of this eccentric and puzzling production. Though based on memoirs Eisenstein wrote before his death in 1948, most of this film is barely a documentary at all, but rather a composite of images, many of which are fascinating and arresting. Eisenstein himself was known for startling and memorable images (perhaps the most famous of which is the shot of the baby carriage rolling down the steps in Potemkin), so memorializing him with clips from his own films interspersed with readings from his memoirs seems somewhat appropriate. But the voice-over in Russian (with English subtitles) is quite sparse, and at times the images onscreen, which include clips from Buster Keaton films and Hollywood musicals from the 1930s, are utterly mystifying.. –Robert J. McNamara Continue reading
This short film shows the contrast between the good conditions in which a rich woman makes a abortion and the miserable and dangerous condition in which a poor woman has to do an abortion. Continue reading
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 Continue reading
From Turner Classic Movies:
On the day of his coronation as the first Tsar of Russia, the former archduke of Moscow, Ivan IV (Nikolai Cherkasov), finds himself inheriting a deeply troubled empire. The Russian people are divided into estranged clans including the Tartars and the aristocratic boyars, led by the evil, black-cloaked princess and Ivan’s aunt Euphrosinia Staritskaya (Serafima Birman). Continue reading
This short film is only still-image restoration of an unfinished film.
What is one to make of Bezhin Meadow? What is one to make of Sergei Eisenstein? The questions are in many ways the same as this film maudit and its maker are in much the same boat these days – lost to history both artistic and political. Filmed between 1936 and 1937 Bezhin Meadow was to signal Eisenstein’s return to the Soviet fold after his sojourn in America and the debacle of Que Viva Mexico. What resulted was an even greater debacle in that no sooner had the film neared completion than it was attacked and banned from view – with Eisenstein contributing to the banning by penning an essay in which he ‘confessed’ to the ‘mistakes’ of Bezhin Meadow. Finally adding injury to insult, the sole surviving print of Bezhin Meadow was destroyed – supposedly in a bombing raid during World War II, but just as likely burned outright. Then around 1968 a ‘reconstruction’ of the film was engineered when splices from the editing table, saved by Eisenstein’s wife, Pera Attasheva, were discovered. Cobbled together with a track of Prokoviev music, intertitles fashioned from the original script and cutting continuity and a brief spoken introduction, it exists today as a 35-minute silent film-cum-slide show. Of obvious interest to film scholars, and doubtless pleasing to those who share Roland Barthes’ preference for still images over moving ones, Bezhin Meadow once again begs the question of Eisenstein’s actual value – once the myth of the Great-Individual-Artist-Suffering-at-the-Hands-of-Stalin is scraped away. For all the ups and downs of his career Eisenstein was always Stalin’s favorite filmmaker, never meeting the fate of his teacher Vsevolod Meyerhold. Internationally celebrated, a linchpin of Soviet propaganda, photographed more than any other director in the history of the cinema, Eisenstein was a Movie Star – first, last and always. Continue reading