Monday, May 20, 2013

171. Ivan Grozny I i II/Ivan the Terrible, Parts One and Two (1944)

Running Time: 187 minutes
Directed By: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Written By: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Main Cast: Nikolay Cherkasov, Efrosinia Staritska, Vladimir Staritsky, Malyuta Skuratov, Alexei Basmanov
Click here to view the trailer


No, I didn't like this movie much at all, but it didn't come as any surprise to me and shouldn't come as any surprise to you, because Sergei Eisenstein was one of the guy's, early on, that I bashed on a weekly basis, during my watching of "Strike", "October" and "The Battleship Potemkin".

Again, like "Henry V", I'm just not going to go into detail on the plot synopsis, because for the most part, a lot the plot went over my head and honestly, I couldn't be bothered to give two hoots about the history of Russia or the rule of "Ivan the Terrible", as it was presented in an extremely bland manner. With "Ivan", you're simply getting the history of a man, Ivan IV, who ruled Russia with an iron fist (and a killer goatee). Let's be honest here, based solely on that, you're going to be able to decide whether or not this movie is for you or for someone else. Are you a history buff? Do you like learning tyrannical czar's and the history of Russia? Those are questions that, if you answered 'yes', then this may be the film for you. I, on the other hand, am not a history buff and (in most cases) would much rather be told a fictional tale, a made-up story, one that can be bent and shaped as the filmmaker sees fit. In the rare occasion when I do enjoy or want to see a film about real world history, I prefer it to be a topic that I have, at least a little bit, of prior knowledge on (U.S. history and Holocaust movies, for example). Trust me, my dislike for this movie and the topic of world history is my own fault, because I live in a bubble, in Pennsylvania, USA and 95% of world topics are going to go way over my head.

However, unlike "Henry V", there was one redeeming quality in "Ivan the Terrible" and that was the camera work. Eisenstein seems to have a thing for filming close-ups of his actor's faces, seemingly directing his photographer to get in tight and capture reactions and expressions. I loved those facials, which actually reminds me that I've been meaning to bring this up. This journey has made me realize many things about my relationship to films. One of the many things I've learned as that I will always go nuts for a really good, tight, close facial expression or reaction. Cagney at the end of "Angels with Dirty Faces", Glenn Close in "Dangerous Liaisons", even the eyes of Sister Ruth in "Black Narcissus", a film that I didn't care for, but have never forgotten that crazed close-up of Kathleen Byron. In "Ivan", there are dozens of close-ups and really great ones of Nikolay Cherkasov, his goatee casting distinct shadows on the wall and a great use of a foreground/background shot, with Ivan peering over the armies.

RATING: 2/10  However, the camera work was just a hint of goodness, in an otherwise completely dreadful time at the movies. I REALLY REALLY REALLY need something fantastic to come along, especially after two HUGE stinkers.


May 20, 2013  6:17pm


  1. Fair comment. As you know, i like this sort of thing a lot more than you do, but even i struggled at times with this one.. It was a tad overlong..

    1. It was WAY too long, I completely agree and actually, had they trimmed it up a bit, I may have enjoyed it a lot more.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...