Eisenstein: The Sound Years [3 Discs] [Criterion Collection] [DVD]

The director of some of the most important films in Russian history, Eisenstein: The Sound Years comes to DVD from Criterion Collection and features the classics Ivan the Terrible and Alexander Nevsky. Presented in 1.33:1 full frame and featuring audio rendered in Dolby Digital Mono, this disc also offers optional English subtitles. Extra features on Ivan the Terrible include a multimedia essay on the history of Ivan the Terrible by Joan Neuberger, deleted scenes, drawings and production stills and a multimedia essay on Eisenstein's visual vocabulary by Yuri Tsivian. Extra features in Alexander Nevsky include an audio essay by film scholar David Bordwell, a multimedia essay by Russell Merritt, a reconstruction of Eisenstein's unfinished film Bezhin Meadow, drawings and production stills and a restoration demonstration.
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Overview

Synopsis

Ivan the Terrible, Part 2
The second part of Sergei Eisenstein's baroque chronicle of the legendary Russian czar was originally planned as a three-part epic. But Eisenstein had battles with Russian censors over the second part of his trilogy, ostensibly because of a negative depiction of Ivan's secret police force (Stalin feared that Eisenstein was making a veiled reference to himself). Although filmed shortly after Part One in 1946, the film was suppressed and was not released until 1958. In the meantime, Eisenstein, who died in 1948, never completed his project, spending most of his time defending himself before Stalin and his censor boards. Part Two takes up the story of Ivan the Terrible (Nikolai Cherkasov) upon his return to Moscow from Alexandrov. Ivan must deal with a group of unfriendly boyars and becomes even more insulated after his mother is poisoned and an assassination plot is uncovered. The black-and-white film ends with a luminous color banquet scene. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Ivan the Terrible, Part 1
Sergei Eisenstein's operatic saga of the 16th-century Russian hero Czar Ivan IV is given a charismatic performance by Nikolai Cherkasov and a brilliant score by Sergei Prokofiev. Part One deals with Czar Ivan's beginnings as the ruler of Russia, Ivan's coronation, and his marriage to Anastasia Romanovna (Lyudmila Tselikovskaya). Ivan suddenly becomes gravely ill and then mysteriously recovers. When a group of conspirators poison his wife, Ivan becomes more wary of his retainers and announces that the will of the people demands his return from Alexandrov to Moscow. Ivan endeavors to preserve his country in the face of all the internal and external conspiracies. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Alexander Nevsky
Like many of Eisenstein's best films, Alexander Nevsky was conceived as a morale-booster, aimed at stirring up Russian patriotism. It is set in the 13th century, but the villainous Teutonic Knights are obviously meant to represent the burgeoning threat of Hitler's hordes. With Russia besieged by both these knights and by the Tartars, only a charismatic leader can save the populace from these barbaric baby killers (yes, we see the villains tossing screaming infants into bonfires!) The hero of the piece is the legendary Prince Alexander Nevsky, portrayed by Nikolai Cherkasov, who bears a striking resemblance to Gary Cooper. The saving turnaround for Nevsky is the battle of ice-covered Lake Peipus in 1242. This bravura sequence is staged in spectacular fashion, underlined by the specially-commissioned music of Sergei Prokofiev. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Nikolai Cherkasov
    Nikolai Cherkasov - Ivan the Terrible
  • Pavel Kadochnikov
    Pavel Kadochnikov - Vladimir Andreyevich Staritsky
  • Image coming soon
    Mikhail A. Kuznetsov - Fyodor
  • Mikhail Zharov
    Mikhail Zharov - Malyuta Skuratov
  • Image coming soon
    Andrei Abrikosov - Philip the Metropolitan (Fyodor Kolychev)
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