By Joan Neuberger
Eisenstein's final, unfinished masterpiece is a wierd, advanced and haunting movie. Commissioned in my view through Stalin in 1941, Ivan the poor put Eisenstein within the paradoxical state of affairs of getting to glorify Stalinist tyranny within the picture of Ivan with no sacrificing his personal creative and political integrity--or his lifestyles. Drawing on resources that come with Eisenstein's own archive and the memoirs of these curious about the film's making, Joan Neuberger's brilliant account unearths how, in nearly very unlikely conditions, Eisenstein controlled to create a movie of cinematic innovation, highbrow intensity and political critique. She finds the movie to be either an exceptional murals and a made from the time and position within which it was once made.
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Extra resources for Ivan the Terrible: The Film Companion (KINOfile)
His main goal, it turns out, is not to support the state for its own good, but to elevate his own family and guarantee its continuity through his son. He abdicates his role as father in order to increase the power of his family. Alexei gives Fedor to Ivan as the ﬁrst son of the oprichniki, but he also enhances his clan’s power by offering Fedor to 42 Ivan the Terrible 6. Alexei offers his son, Fedor, to Ivan. Ivan as a replacement for Anastasia: he marries the Basmanov clan into the dynasty. And the next time Ivan seeks support for his cause, he will turn away from the dead Anastasia to ask Fedor what he should do.
The heroic elements of the surface narrative were able to dominate perceptions of the written screenplay, precisely because it was presented textually, rather than visually. Themes connected with Ivan’s conscience were less pronounced in the absence of the cathedral settings and religious objects that surround much of the action. The ubiquitous conspiracies and counter-conspiracies were less apparent to the ofﬁcial ﬁrst readers of the script, without the repeated close-ups of sinister facial expressions and without the claustrophobia of the palace chambers where most of the action takes place.
The actual plot of Ivan the Terrible is anything but the story of the man who created a ‘uniﬁed state’, spread ‘military glory’ and achieved ‘great tasks’. Part I, which takes us up to the founding of Ivan’s personal guard (the oprichniki) and private ﬁefdom (the oprichnina), and to the tsar’s retreat from Moscow, shows Ivan to be a man who resolves to trick his people into submission if they do not choose him to rule over them and a man who creates his own army of inhuman sons without mothers or fathers to terrorize his political enemies.
Ivan the Terrible: The Film Companion (KINOfile) by Joan Neuberger