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The Eisenstein Collection Vol.2

 

Alexander Nevsky (1938)


Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1944)         Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1958)

 

Eric has reviewed Tartan's Eisenstein Collection Volume 2 -Collection of three films directed by Russian filmmaking legend Sergei Eisenstein. Films include ALEXANDER NEVSKY, IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART I and IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART II. Comes complete with the short film, BEZHIN MEADOW. Each disc is reviewed individually - and the Ivan the Terrible (Parts one and two) captures are matched to the Criterion reviewed HERE.

Gary Tooze


(aka "хБЮМ цПНГМШИ" or "Ivan the Terrible, Part One" or "Ivane Mriskhane, natsili pirveli")

 

directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein
Soviet Union 1945

 

Newly-crowned Tsar Ivan (Nikolai Cherkasov, ALEXANDER NEVSKY) already has enemies - most notably the prince Staritsky (Pavel Kadochnikov, DARK EYES), whose path to the throne he has blocked, as well as the boyar aristocrats who once jointly ruled Russia - but he makes further enemies after the coronation when he proclaims his plans to establish an army, funded by the aristocrats and the church (in place of their actual service). During his wedding to Anastasia (Lyudmila Tselikovskaya), the boyars and the prince are already plotting against Ivan. Ivan's trusted friend Kolychev (Mikhail Kuznetsov, ALEXANDER NEVSKY) fears Ivan's breaking with tradition and asks permission to go into a monastery. His other friend Kurbsky (Mikhail Nazvanov) is being needled by one of the boyars over the choice of Ivan over him as Tsar. When a mob burns down several of the boyars' palaces and accuse the Tsarina's family of manipulating Ivan, the boyars use this to their advantage in their plot to kill the Tsarina. Meanwhile, Ivan has declared war on Kazan after an insult. Ivan is appalled by Kurbsky's cruelty as a military commander in the attack on Kazan. When Ivan falls ill, Kurbsky is not sure whether to swear allegiance to Ivan's son or to Prince Staritsky. The Tsarina tells Kurbsky that Ivan is not dead so he quickly swears allegiance to Ivan's son and is rewarded the command of troops to protect the west border against the Poles, while commoner Basmanov is sent to command protection of the Crimean border. Meanwhile, Staritsky's conniving mother plots with the boyars to kill the Tsarina and Ivan looks to the people for his goal of absolute rule. IVAN THE TERRIBLE PARTS I and II are the pinnacle of Eisenstein's cinematographic and editorial aesthetic technique as described in his own writings (and stills and clips from the films have often been used to illustrate film form terminology). Indeed, the viewing experience will likely prove exhausting to the more-than-casual viewer analyzing the composition and content of each and every shot. The analytic viewer's brain will likely go into overload when having to also take in the editing (in some instances, Eisenstein will cut in closer or back from angles of the same person without the use of cutaways so the choice of the angles and the duration of these cuts also comes into question). Then, there is the layer (in fact, layers, plural) of sound, which is quite sophisticated for the period. During the coronation, the sound design shifts emphasis between the voices of the characters, onscreen sound effects (like the falling coins being poured over Ivan's head), and the singing, all with the maddening sound of clanging bells running underneath its entirety (it is not until several minutes into the opening scenes that Ivan finally asks about the bells and affirms their diegetic existence). The eventful plot may have to be taken in upon a second or third viewing for the film student.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 16th, 1945

Reviews           DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Palisades Tartan (Eisenstein Collection Vol. 2) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Palisades Tartan

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:34:48 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.91 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Palisades Tartan

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: 20 September 2010
3-disc Keep Case

Chapters 8

 

Comments

THE EISENSTEIN COLLECTION VOL. 2 presents IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART I in a single-layer transfer with healthy-looking grain and a relatively clean audio track. Optional English subtitles are always legible and seemingly without noticeable or distracting errors. Although somewhat darker than the Criterion (and losing slivers of information on the sides), the Palisades Tartan transfer is progressive. Audio has some hiss, but is cleaner than the Corinth prints. There are no extras. Eight chapters are afforded for the film.

  - Eric Cotenas

 



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(aka "Boyarsky zagovor" or "Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars' Plot" or "Ivan the Terrible, Part Two" or "Ivane Mriskhane, natsili meore" )

 

directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein
Soviet Union 1958

 

Ivan's (Nikolai Cherkasov, ALEXANDER NEVSKY) loyalty-conflicted right hand man Prince Kurbsky (Mikhail Nazvanov) has sworn allegiance to Poland (in the previous film, Ivan had rewarded Kurbsky's oath of allegiance with command of the defense of the western border against the Poles. Ivan has summoned his other friend Kolychev back from the monastery where he has since become the monk Phillip. Phillip agrees to aide Ivan if Ivan allows him to intercede on behalf of some condemned men (including three of his own kinsmen). Ivan grants this request and then goes behind his back and has them all executed. The boyars are thus able to convince Phillip of Ivan's abuse of power. Ivan has Phillip seized and jailed when he stands up to him, so the boyars decide the must assassinate Ivan and replace him with Prince Staritsky (Pavel Kadochnikov, DARK EYES). Ivan and his Crimean border commander's son Fyodor suspect Staritsky's mother (Serafima Birman, WINGS OF VICTORY) of having poisoned the Tsarina and plot to turn the tables on his would-be assassins. Although IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART II is subtitled "The Boyar's Plot" - they did plenty of plotting in the previous film - the sequel is where Ivan Grozny lives up to his nickname (and looks visually like what one usually thinks of when conjuring up an image of the Tsar). That is, of course, why the film was not shown until 1958 (although it was finished in 1945) since it depicted Ivan's crueler and more duplicitous nature; one assumes that the final part of the trilogy would have helped to provide a fully dimensional portrait of Ivan. The sequel is just as meticulously composed as the first film (it also includes a color sequence), and the analytic viewer may have to take it in in more than one viewing. The plot is just as full of intrigue and ample motivations for betrayal, but the cinematographic aspects are bound to overwhelm.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: Russia 1958

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Palisades Tartan (Eisenstein Collection Vol. 2) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Palisades Tartan

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:21:33 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.91 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Palisades Tartan

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• BEZHIN MEADOWS reconstruction (4:3; 29:45 with introduction)

DVD Release Date: 20 September 2010
3-disc Keep Case

Chapters 8

 

Comments

Palisades Tartan's DVD of IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART TWO is a single-layer, progressive transfer. The transfer is very clean (the recap footage during the opening is in scratchier condition) although the splice line dips into the top of the frame once in a while. There is one error I picked up in the subtitles. The spoken credits list the role of Efrosinia and the actress, and then credit "Vladimir's Son" as "Pavel Kadochnikov." Since Kadochnikov plays Vladimir, I'm assuming the subtitle should have read "Her son Vladimir: Pavel Kodochnikov." Unlike the other two discs in the collection, IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART TWO features a single extra: the reconstruction of Eisenstein's unfinished BEZHIN MEADOWS. The reconstruction is preceded by a subtitled introduction which also shows some script pages and storyboards. The reconstruction itself is achieved through stills, narration, and text cards (subtitled in English). I am unsure whether this is the same reconstruction featured on the Criterion set (where it appears on the ALEXANDER NEVSKY disc).

  - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
 

 

 


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Subtitle sample

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 
Color sequence

 

 


(aka "Александр Невск&" )

 

directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein
Soviet Union 1938

 

When the Teutonic Knights invade Pskov and massacre its citizenry, Prince Alexander Nevsky (Nikolai Cherkasov, later Eisenstein's IVAN THE TERRIBLE) steps up to rally the people of Novgorod to prevent a similar invasion. On the surface, ALEXANDER NEVSKY is not arthouse Eisenstein. It is as exquisitely composed in its technical dimensions as anything he had done before and demonstrates the progress towards the hyper-composed and exhaustively-detailed IVAN THE TERRIBLE. The film is also "lightened" by the comic supporting characters of Vasili (Nikolai Okhlopkov) and Gavrilo (Andrei Abrikosov, also in both parts of IVAN THE TERRIBLE) who go to war to win the hand of Olga (Vera Ivashova) and fight alongside maiden warrior Vasilisa (Aleksandra Danilova). They pop up suddenly in the midst of Eisenstein's excitingly-edited battle (featuring some bloodless but brutal blows that you would not see in an American picture of the time) and sort of derail the tension with their boisterousness. Some politically-motivated elements that also informed IVAN THE TERRIBLE appear here; the boyars and the church resist Alexander's rallying cry just as they would Czar Ivan's ambitions for a unified Russia and standing army. Studies of the film have made more explicit the likening of the Teutonic Knights to the Nazis (who employed their imagery in propaganda) and the ultimately justified anxieties over the proposed non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 1 December 1938

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Palisades Tartan (Eisenstein Collection Vol. 2) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Palisades Tartan

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:43:24 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.32:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.11 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Palisades Tartan

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.32:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: 20 September 2010
3 disc Keep Case

Chapters 8

 

Comments

Palisades Tartan's release of ALEXANDER NEVSKY (packaged with IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART I and PART II as well as BEZHIN MEADOWS) is the EISENSTEIN COLLECTION VOL. 2 release that was announced by Tartan Films (the Tartan edition of EISENSTEIN COLLECTION VOL. 1 has been re-pressed with the Palisades Tartan signage). The transfer seems to be the same master that was provided to Criterion, but in progressive PAL (the early Criterion disc was sharper but had been transferred interlaced). The Criterion framing seems to offer slivers of additional information on the left, right, and top. There have always been audio issues with this title: the final track was actually a rehearsal track with poor recordings of Prokofiev's score and the well-intentioned "restoration" by combining a newer recording of the score with the low-fi original dialogue and effects tracks proved unsatisfactory. The film has been afforded a scant 8 chapters. There are no extras accompanying NEVSKY.

  - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures


Subtitles ample

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Palisades Tartan

Region 2 - PAL

 



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Gary Tooze

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