Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.


IVAN THE TERRIBLE, PART I (1944)
IVAN THE TERRIBLE, PART II (1958)
Sergei Eisenstein's final films, telling the story (or two-thirds of it, as a trilogy was planned but never completed) of Ivan IV, the first tsar of a unified Russia. The first film was released when it was finished, but the second, which was considered by Soviet censors to be ambivalent towards state terrorism, wasn't released until after both Eisenstein and Stalin (who loved the first film) were dead. They're odd films; big and melodramatic, overacted and lingering in the style of silent films. They're so arch, so broad, but oddly compelling; you know, like Star Wars. The Pantomime of Ivan the Terrible. The costumes and the sets are beautiful; the cinematography has such a depth of field and shadow. They're terrifically made, but they're definitely relics of a bygone era of filmmaking. I sound totally condescending, but I really enjoyed these oddities. ***1/2 stars each.

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