Eisenstein-Sound Years (1938)
|Sergei Eisenstein, long regarded as a pioneer of film art, changed cinematic strategies halfway through his career. Returning from Hollywood and Mexico in the late 1930s, he found that the potential of the Soviet Revolution had devolved into totalitarianism – and Stalin’s ever-tightening rule demanded that future Eisenstein projects be works of propaganda. Leaving behind the densely edited, montage style of celebrated silents like Battleship Potemkin and October, Eisenstein turned to historical sources, grandiose scores, contradictory audiovisuals, and theatrical sets for his work in the sound era. This trio of rousing action epics reveals a deeply unsettling portrait of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and also provide battle scene blueprints for filmmaking giants from Laurence Olivier (in Henry V) to Akira Kurosawa (in Seven Samurai). The Criterion Collection is proud to present Alexander Nevsky and Ivan The Terrible, parts I and II, in a Special Edition three-disc box set.|
(1938, 108 minutes)
Ivan The Terrible Part 1 and 2 Eisenstein filmed two parts of his planned trilogy on the troubled 16th-century Tsar who united Russia. Visually stunning and powerfully acted, Ivan The Terrible charts the rise to power and descent into madness of, essentially, a dictator. Though pleased with the first installment, Stalin detected the portrait in the second film – with its summary and secret police – promptly banned it.
(1945, 99 minutes)
Editor's NoteThese two spectacular, grandiose battle epics from great director Sergei Eisenstein--who pioneered the Soviet montage style of the silent era--are prototypes for many of the classic war epics that preceded them. Produced under the totalitarian Stalin regime, Eisenstein's work managed to turn Soviet propaganda into revolutionary art. ALEXANDER NEVSKY, which details the true story of the general's triumph over Teutonic Knights, features the much-imitated Battle on Ice sequence. IVAN THE TERRIBLE is the story of the powerful czar who regressed into an insane tyrant. Ironically, the second part of this film was banned when Stalin noticed too many similarities between the portrayal of Ivan and himself.
|Dimitri Vasilyev - Director [Nevsky]|
|Sergei M. Eisenstein - Director [Nevskyk, Ivan I, Ivan II]|
|Andrei Moskvin - Director of Photography [Ivan I, Ivan II]|
|Eduard Tisse - Director of Photography [Nevsky, Ivan I, Ivan II]|
|Sergei Prokofiev - Musical Score [Nevsky, Ivan I]|
|I. Baker, et al. - Producer [Ivan II]|
|Sergei M. Eisenstein - Writer [Nevsky, Ivan I, Ivan II]|
|Pyotr Pavlenko - Writer [Nevsky]|