EISENSTEIN, IVAN THE TERRIBLE (IVAN GROSNYI) (1943) 3HRS 4.
PART 1, 1HR 39. PART 2, 1HR 25
See the handout on Alexander Nevsky for details.
- Tsar Ivan IV ('the Terrible") - Nikolai
- Prince Andrei Kourbsky - M. Nazvanov
- Grand Duchess Efrossinia Staritzkaya - Serfina
- Maluta Skouratova - M. Jarov
- Tsarina Anastassia Romanovna - L. Tzelikovskaya
- Alexei Basmanov - A. Boutchma
- Fedor Basmanov - M. Kouznetzov
- Monk Philippe - Kolychev
The attraction of the 16thC Tsar Ivan the Terrible was that he was a
founding father of the unified central Russian state, who did what had to
be done to unify the state and defend it from its enemies (both within -
against the nobility, the Boyars, and the Church - and without - the Poles,
Germans, and Tartars). A vital element in consoldiation of central power
around the Tsar was the formation of the Oprichniki (the secret police who
formed a virtual state within a state) which Ivan used to eliminate his
enemeies and bind others to his cause. The parallels to Stalin during WW2
are clear. For the first part the director, two main stars, the cameramen,
and the composer had received the highest honours (the Stalin Prize) for
their work. Unfortunately, the second part was rejected by the Artistic
Council of the Ministry of Cinematography because:
ignorance of historic facts by showing Ivan the Terrible's progressive
army of oprichniks as a band of degenerates in the style of the American
Ku Klux Klan; and Ivan, a man of great will power and strong character,
as a weak and feeble being, a sort of Hamlet. (quoted in Kobal).
Part One (1945)
Part One (1945) deals with Ivan's coronation in 1547 (he prefers to take
the title Tsar (Caesar) instead of Grand Prince of Moscow), marriage, illness,
miraculous recovery, the poisoning of his wife, struggle against consiprators
who wish to replace him with a more compliant ruler of Russia. The first
part ends with him in exile but considering the "will of the people"
to return to power and lead them against the state's enemies.
Part Two "The Boyars' Plot" (1946 but
not shown until 1958)
Part Two "The Boyars' Plot" (1946 but not shown until 1958)
deals with his return to power, the formation of his elite force of Oprichnina
secret police, the confrontation with his enemies, the poisoning of his
mother, the unveiling of a plot to assassinate him. The second part concludes
with a colour film scene of a banquet.
Part Three "The Battles of Ivan" (incomplete)
Part Three was to be called "The Battles of Ivan" and would
deal with Ivan's victory over the Poles and Germans. It had been approved
by Stalin but SE died in 1948 before he could do more than film a few minutes.
THINGS TO NOTE
- The script was written in blank verse in sylised Old Russian and delivered
in an operatic fashion to Prokofiev's music. Other highly stylised aspects
inlcude the influence of Wagnerian music-drama, Marinsky ballet, Japanese
Kabuki theatre. Lots of strange looking beards and furtive looks.
- Note the image of Ivan at the end of Part 1 sitting in the window of
his retreat, observing the long line of ordinary Russian people who have
come to beg him to lead them victory. Absolute power is "popular"?
What similarities (actual and asserted) can be drawn between Stalin (the
"Red Tsar") and Ivan the Terrible?
- The way in which SE ties together in Part One the themes of Ivan's
personal life, Russian domestic problems, and international war and trade.
- What aspects of Part One would have pleased Stalin and what aspects
of Part Two would have displeased him? Does Part One embody the approved
aesthetics of Soviet Socialist Realism?
- The nature of absolute power of Ivan (or Stalin). Note the symbols
of power at Ivan's coronation and the role of the Church. The justification
Ivan gives of the ruthless use of power to unite and defend the state:
- A kingdom cannot be ruled without an iron hand.
- Only absolute power can safeguard Muscovy from her foes.
- Henceforth the sword of righteousness shall flash against those who
encroach on Russia from without.
- The role war plays in medieval Russian society. The suggestion that
war against the Tartars at Kazan is a way of uniting the competing groups
within Muscovite society against a common enemy. The imporance of the war
against Livonia for control of the maritime ports and trade routes.