In the second part of Sergei Eisenstein's grand film, a grieving Ivan (Nikolai Cherkassov) withdraws from Moscow to his estate at Uglich after the death of the empress, less trustful than ever of those who surround him. His solitude is augmented by the defection of his military chief, Prince Kurbsky (Mikahil Nazvanov), to Poland. But when the people of Moscow make a mass pilgrimage to petition for his return to Moscow, he realizes that he has an opportunity to increase his power while diminishing that of the boyars. After his former friend Philip the Monk (Andrei Abrikosov) betrays his friendship by siding with the boyars, Ivan unleashes the Oprichniki, a secret police network that he has developed to gather information about his enemies and, when necessary, eliminate them. Under the directon of Ivan's aunt Euphrosyne (Serafima Birman), the boyars hatch a plot to assassinate the czar and put Euphrosyne's mentally defective son, Vladimir (Pavel Kadochnikov), on the throne. But after Ivan deftly eludes death, all of his opponents, including the boyars, the aristocracy, and the Polish army, unite to attempt a final assault on his rule. The visual splendor of Part 2 is enhanced by two scenes featuring Eisenstein's first experiments with color, an element for which he developed an elaborate thematic scheme.