Ivan The Terrible: Final work of great Sergey Eisenstein
Ivan the Terrible / Ivan Groznyy
USSR, 1944/1958; Part I. 96min., Part II. 90min.;
Dir. Sergey Eisenstein, Music by Sergey Prokofiev
Cinematography: Andrei Moskvin, Eduard Tisse
"Overburdened with shadows? Too much imagery stuffed in? But it is too much only for those who do not read images but merely rush after action. Too much for those who go to the movies for telegraphic syntax, rather than for poetic writing with repetitions, illustrations and music — for those who look for the anecdote alone."Winner of the Best Cinematography Prize, Locarno Film Festival, 1946
- Sergey Eisenstein’s Diary
A biography of the first czar of Russia was the final movie project of the great Sergey Eisenstein's life. Originally conceived as a historical epic in three parts, this biography of Czar Ivan IV, the murderous 16th-century unifier of the Russian people, was truncated by the director's death in 1948, just when he was about to begin part three. A spectacle of impressively baroque splendor, it remains one of the great anomalies of film history. Starring Nikolai Cherkassov as the eponymous ruler, the film opens with the 16-year-old's opulent coronation in 1546. He breaks with the custom of marriage to a foreign princess by marrying a Russian girl, Anastasia Romanovna (Lyudmila Tselikovskaya), thereby offending the nobility. In an effort to expand his territory eastward, he leads an army of 100,000 to seize Kazan, succeeding only after a long and bitter campaign. After contracting a seemingly fatal illness, Ivan summons the boyars, led by his aunt Euphrosinia (Serafima Birman), but they refuse his demand to swear allegiance to his one-year-old son, greatly angering the czar. When Ivan miraculously returns to health, he begins to consolidate power in opposition to the boyars. Eisenstein's command of light and shadow becomes its own justification, as the fascinating court intrigue plays out in a series of dynamic, eye-filling scenes. While Cherkassov gives an outstanding performance as Ivan, it is the film's unique visual quality, featuring spectacularly ornate set design and costumes, along with a performance style influenced by Russian classicism, grand opera, and Kabuki theater, that makes it a one of the greatest visual masterpieces cinema ever produced. Brilliant score by Sergey Prokofiev is no doubts a great bonus to the movie. "Ivan the Terrible" still stands as a magnificent, rich, stunning and very powerful film work.